Although not a legal requirement, making a Will is the only way to protect your family and assets in the long term. Without a Will, the value of your family’s inheritance may be reduced significantly. This could lead to untold problems, and additional costs, at a time when the additional stress and difficulty is the last thing they need.
Making a Will is the only way for you to take control. It spells out your wishes clearly and avoids costly time consuming disagreements as well as giving you peace of mind.
What happens if I die without a Will?
- Dying without a Will (intestate) will have various consequences.
- Your spouse or partner may not automatically inherit your property and possessions.
- Guardianship of children under 18 may be unclear, leaving the courts to decide their welfare.
- The task of carrying out your wishes may fall upon a person who is unsuitable for such responsibilities, or they may turn to a solicitor who will deduct a fee from the estate.
- Your home may not ultimately pass to your chosen beneficiaries.
- Your family could be liable for a whopping tax bill.
- A special gift you have chosen for a child, grandchild, friend or charity might not get to them.
- The people who are precious to you could suffer unnecessary stress, heartache and difficulties.
A case study
What happens if I have made a Will?
If you Have a Will, is it doing what you want?
- Have you left everything to your spouse/partner and then all to your children?
- Your Assets may fund your spouse/partner’s next marriage and then be at risk from divorce.
Your children may not inherit at all.
And if your children inherit, their inheritance:
- Could be lost to their ex-partners in a divorce.
- Could be lost to their children’s creditor claims.
- Could fund their long term care fees.
- Could be drastically reduced because of Inheritance Tax.
Impacting on what your grandchildren inherit.
Do I need to worry about taxes on my death?
Your beneficiaries will be liable to pay 40% on everything over £325,000. You should talk to a professional experienced in tax and estate planning who can give you good advice in minimising exposure to this tax on your death, whether through your Will or by taking appropriate steps during your lifetime. It is often possible to save thousands of pounds through simple measures. And don’t forget that Inheritance Tax is generational.
I can write my own Will?
In England and Wales you can write your own Will. Creating your own DIY Will may seem like a great way to save you time and money, and sometimes this may well be the case. However problems frequently arise resulting from easy to make mistakes that cost families a great deal of money and heartache. Often this is due to the fact that court hearings and lawyers are required to remedy the issues. There are many traps for the unsuspecting person which could result in estate assets passing to persons not intended to receive them. Often, incorrect terminology and wording run foul of a legal rule or principle of which the writer was unaware. The best advice is to rely on a professional Will writer to take your instructions and translate them into legally effective provisions in your Will. Remember, the cost of our wills includes advice given.
I already have a Will. How often should it be reviewed?
It is important to review your Will whenever there have been changes in family circumstances (for example, births, deaths, disabilities, marriages, separation or divorce) or if there has been significant changes in your financial situation, whether an increase or a decrease. Even without changes to your circumstances, there may have been changes in income tax or other laws so regular reviews are always a good idea. Even with a Will there are a number of ways in which your home, savings and business are vulnerable to attack so having the right Will is very important. Check out the 5 threats to your wealth here
I am divorced, but how do I ensure that my ex-spouse does not receive anything under my Will?
Once divorced your Will remains valid and is not revoked. However, for the sole purpose of the Will, your former spouse is treated as deceased and therefore any gifts made to them or appointment of them as Executor or Trustee, become ineffective. It is easy to forget the need to update your Will, particularly when you lead a busy life juggling work and family. Unless you make a new Will, your executor will be obliged to notify your ex-spouse that an application for probate has been submitted to the court, and your former spouse may participate in the proceedings if he or she wishes. They may argue that your Will indicates an intention that they should receive bequests under the Will notwithstanding the divorce.
My wife and I have separated – do I need to change my Will?
Separation does not affect your Will. Even if you have a Separation Agreement, which provides that your spouse will have no claim against you under your Will, making a Will is a matter that should be attended to immediately upon separation. However, your spouse may still have a claim against you under the relevant marital property laws.