Wills. When is the right time to make one?
In our busy lives, it is not easy to find the time to address our own mortality. As a nation, we are not good at facing the fact that one day, we won’t be here for our loved ones any more.
It is a startling fact that around two-thirds of UK adults do not have a Will and many people do not consider doing a Will until their older years. Some put this off until it is too late, leaving their loved ones in a complex and distressing situation.
So – here are some questions you may not like to think of answering:
What would happen if you died tomorrow?
Would your loved ones be provided for?
How do you know that your assets will be distributed in the way you would want?
How will your funeral be paid for?
If you have children or a partner that relies on you financially, how will they manage without you?
While the law provides for those who die without a Will, under the Rules of Intestacy, this often leads to uncertainty at best. At the worst unintended family members can inherit or large inheritance tax bills can become payable. Whatever assets you hold, whether you own your home or have a company or investments, the best way to make provision for the worst is to make a Will.
These are some of the main reasons for making a Will:
- To appoint executors (who will administer your estate)
- To appoint guardians for any of your children under 18;
- To set out who you would like to be the beneficiaries of your estate. You may want to include legacies of cash and personal items or include a trust for your children or grandchildren.
- To set out your wishes about how and where you want your funeral to be conducted.
Do you already have a Will in place? That’s great, but it’s vital to review your Will regularly to make sure that it still reflects your wishes.
Occasions when you should consider amending an existing Will would be:
- If you have children under 18 – a Will is the best way to appoint guardians.
- If you live with a partner and do not marry or form a civil partnership – your partner would receive nothing from your estate under the intestacy rules;
- In the event of divorce and re-marriage – if you do not make a Will on re-marriage your children would be disinherited.
- If you do not want your children to inherit everything at 18.
It’s never too early to sign a Will to protect your assets and have your wishes respected after you are gone. It is always best to get professional advice from a solicitor to assist you with making those crucial decisions that will benefit your family in years to come. They can also ensure that your Will is written in a legally sound way, ensuring that your wishes will be respected.
Don’t leave it to chance, consider making your Will today.
Guy Birtwistle is a Director and Head of Wills and Probate at Fishers Solicitors. He has many years of experience in dealing with wills, estate and trust administration, tax planning, and applications to the Court of Protection.
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