Ideally everyone over 18, but it is crucial for those living together, those with children, those who don’t want to create an unnecessary tax bill and those whose assets may be at risk from creditors in the future. No need to lose everything which would have helped your children and grandchildren if you Create a Will of the right type. And once it is made, it needs to be reviewed regularly as finances, family, Tax and the Law are constantly changing. Our unique Peace of Mind Service makes that easy and affordable.
Always remember that is just the start of your Legal Planning journey, not a once in a lifetime set and forget job!
What happens to your kids if you don’t make a Will?
1) If you haven’t made a Will and meet with a fatal accident or whatever, and either both parents die or are unable to act (see our section on Lasting Powers of Attorney), do you think your next of kin take charge? If you do, you are wrong: Social Service and the Courts do. Contact us for help!
If you don’t make one which appoints Guardians to look after your children in these sad circumstances, they could be dragged out of the family home to live with strangers until their fate is decided. Maybe this isn’t what you want. So make a Will – don’t leave Social Services in charge of your children. They always use their best efforts, but they don’t have the faintest idea which of you family or friends would be a wise choice. They may be fooled by the most unsuitable person you can think of. Appearances can be deceptive, and Social Workers have very busy workloads.
2) If you don’t create a Will, the Government will decide who inherits anything you own through the Rules of Intestacy, which take no account of common law spouses or partners. They get nothing unless they sue whoever does inherit under the Rules of Intestacy. This can mean years of uncertainty, frustration – and no access to assets in you name. So if the house is in your name, they may not be able to move to avoid repossession if the mortgage can’t be paid after losing your income. Nasty, and easily avoided if you make a Will. As long as you create a Will which is well thought through and properly complete the required formalities under the Act.
That is why you need the advice of a specialist professional – despite our specialist skills, we are pretty sensibly priced as we don’t have the massive overheads of many High Street firms.
“I already have a will – I don’t need a new one”
- In a lot of cases, the Taxman will be very pleased you haven’t reviewed it, as he could get a totally unnecessary extra £140,000 in Inheritance Tax.
- Do you know where it is?
- Do they Executors know where it is? Are they still appropriate?
- Our Peace of Mind Services recommends a review every 3 years – and makes sure you Will and other documents can be found! After all, you wouldn’t purchase a car and assume it doesn’t need any maintenance for the rest of your life.
- Have any of your children unsuitable partners or unstable relationships?
Things change – Tax, the Law, your family circumstances. Regular review is essential (so join!)
These changes could be due to marriage, divorce, birth of new children or grandchildren, death of a beneficiary, or even coming into some money. This also makes sure you keep abreast of any changes to the law that effect your planning so you can be sure that your will is as effective as possible.
“Everything will go to my partner anyway”
Not if it is a common law marriage – in Law they don’t exist.
If you die without a Will the “rules of intestacy” will apply and your estate will be distributed to surviving relatives by a strict hierarchy. A common law husband or wife is NOT a relative.
If you are married or in a civil partnership and you have no children then if you die all of your assets will pass to your spouse or civil partnership. This is also the case for married couples and civil partners who have children but whose estates are valued at less than £250,000. For everyone else the situation is much more complicated.
If you and your partner are unmarried or have not entered into a civil partnership then the rules of intestacy are not your friend. Intestacy doesn’t recognise these relationships so your partner would receive no benefit from your estate. The concept of ‘common law marriage’ is only a myth and has no legal basis.
“Making a will is complicated”
Making a will doesn’t need to be a complicated process. We are also used to organising Wills over the phone, which is especially useful with Covid around. Or you can see a professional and highly skilled Will Writer in the comfort of your own home at a time that suits you. The benefit of using a professional Will Writer is that they will be able to advise you every step of the way and the complicated bits like actually writing the will and dealing with HM Land Registry will all be handled by your Will Writer for you. Giving your instructions for your will can be as simple as having a chat over a nice cup of tea.
“Making a will is morbid”
We don’t like to talk about death. It’s a topic that can make people feel uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean that the process of making a will has to be a solemn affair. We prefer to look at the positive side of writing a will. By putting a will in place you’re giving yourself peace of mind because you’ll know that your affairs will be in order. You’ll also know that your family or those who are important to you will be taken care of.
“Once I’ve written a will it can’t be changed”
This is another one that we hear quite often. There is a general fear that once you have written a will that’s it. Well thankfully that’s not the case! As long as you retain the capacity to make a will you are totally free to cancel it (formally!) or to write a new will at any point. In fact, we encourage you to join our Peace of Mind Service to keep your planning under regular review (see point 1).
“I need a solicitor to write a will”
While we certainly recommend using a professional to write your will that doesn’t need to be a solicitor. There are 1700 specialist professional Will Writers who are specialist Society of Will Writers member, like us. SWW members you can be sure are properly trained, insured, and ultimately safe to do business with.
“My family will sort everything out between themselves once I’m gone”
Unfortunately, if you die without a will your family will not be able to distribute your estate however they wish. Your estate would pass according to the rules of intestacy, which is essentially the will that the government has written for you. The only way to guarantee that your assets pass to who you want them to on death is to have a will. In some cases, that can be amended by a Deed of Variation but everyone who loses out must agree, and if they are under 18, Court approvale is required.
“Wills are for the rich – I don’t have anything to give”
Most people have something of value when they die. You may not be rich, you may not own your own home, but you almost definitely have something. Whether this is some money in the bank, jewellery, or even items that have no real monetary value but are quite sentimental to you. Chances are you’d want to make sure the assets you do have end up in the right hands, and not just start a fight over who should have what.
“My debts will die with me”
Wouldn’t that be nice? Unfortunately, it’s not true. If you die with any debts outstanding these will need to be paid from your estate. Your will can direct where everything left over will pass and can make specific gifts of certain assets, so they won’t fall into the pot to be sold to cover debts unless absolutely necessary.
“Wills are for the elderly or the ill”
- If you have children, you should have a Will to express your wishes as to who should look after them if both parents should die.
- If you have partner, there status in inheritance terms should be clear or immense bad feeling can destroy good memories for them and your family.
While a person who is elderly or ill may require a will more urgently, Wills are for everyone over 18 with mental capacity. Writing a will shouldn’t be put off as the longer you leave it the more risk there is of it being too late. Even if you are at the other end of the spectrum and are young and healthy you can still benefit from a will, especially if you have minor children. A will isn’t all about distributing your assets on death, it is also an important document to appoint guardians. These are people who you appoint to formally take care of your minor children if you were to die.
That is why you need the advice of a specialist professional – despite our specialist skills, we are pretty sensibly priced
as we don’t have the massive overheads of many High Street firms.