Making a Will is something that many of us might defer until we are much older, or never even get around to, especially if we feel like our dying wishes may still be challenged by any aggrieved family members.
Yet whilst it is entirely possible for a dispute to arise as to the contents or validity of a Will after we die – typically in cases involving modern day families, with unmarried partners or children from previous relationships – this, in itself, is insufficient reason to not put a Will in place.
If anything, the likelihood of animosity between bereaved loved ones is all the more reason to make clear our wishes in the hope that these will be honoured. There are also a number of practical reasons as to why a Will can benefit those that you leave behind.
Why should I make a Will?
A Will is a written document setting out what should happen to your money, possessions and property after you die. This is known as your estate. Making a Will can help to protect your loved ones, and ensure that your estate is dealt with in the manner that you choose and by those that you trust.
Writing a Will is especially important if you have children or others who depend on you financially, or if you want to leave something to people outside your immediate family. If you don’t write a Will, everything you own will be shared out in a standard way, which might not be in accordance with your wishes.
Your family may also find themselves facing a significant inheritance tax bill, a liability that could have easily been mitigated through the use of a well drafted Will.
What if I die without a Will?
If you die without making a Will, the rules of intestacy will come into play. These rules provide that any surviving spouse or civil partner will inherit all your personal possessions, in addition to any money or assets up to the value of £270,000, and half of the remaining estate. The remaining half will be divided between any surviving children, grandchildren or great grandchildren.
This means that if your estate is worth £270,000 or less, the whole estate will pass to any spouse or civil partner, without any provision for your children or any other loved ones whatsoever. These rules also mean that if you were not married or in a civil partnership at the time of death, any surviving common law partner will have no automatic right to inherit from your estate.
In short, if you die intestate, the way in which your wealth will be distributed, and who will benefit, will be determined solely under these standard rules.
Can I draft my own Will?
In theory it is possible to draft your own Will or download a template, however, using a DIY Will won’t be specific to your personal circumstances and if not executed properly, may be invalid. It is always preferable to obtain legal advice so as to ensure the Will is drafted correctly, avoid challenges against it in the future and ultimately ensure your estate passes to the people you want it to.
Even for simple Wills taking professional advice will reduce the chance of mistakes or omissions that can cause problems further down the line. For more complex estates the advice that an expert can offer may potentially save your beneficiaries thousands of pounds in inheritance tax and make dealing with your affairs much easier when the time comes.
The matters contained herein are intended to be for general information purposes only. This blog does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law and should not be treated as such.
Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.