A Will is an important part of your legal planning which enables you (otherwise known as the testator), to specify how you would like your belongings (assets, chattels and property) to be distributed on their death.
A Will enables the testator to do the following:-
- Appoint executors to handle their estate and distribute assets on their death
- Appoint guardians to look after minor children (children under the age of 18)
- Make money gifts to family members, friends or even charities
- Specify for certain items to be gifted to a beneficiary i.e. a family heirloom or even a piece of jewellery – we have even seen someone gift their alcohol collection
- Specify funeral arrangements (although these should also be notified to your family).
- Gift properties
- Exclude people from benefiting under their Will i.e. estranged children
- Make provisions for pets
- Include various trusts
- Specify how their estate should be distributed and who to
- It can also be very beneficial for IHT planning.
If you die without making a Will, you have died intestate and the Government rules of intestacy will decide who benefits, not you. This is unlikely to be either fair or tax-efficient. It could benefit those you may not have wanted to benefit under the Will.
Take for example a couple who are currently going through a divorce. Until the divorce is finalised and a decree absolute is issued, if Mr dies without having made a Will excluding his current wife from benefiting from his estate, under the laws of intestacy, if his estate is worth £270,000, she will receive all of his estate and half the balance over that. If he had made provisions to put a Will in place, this would not have been the case, though fair provision under the circumstances would be prudent..
Our technical support were asked to advise on a very sad case last year where a couple had been in a relationship for 30 years. They were not married but were living together and then Miss died. Her intention was for all to pass to her partner and she assumed since they were together for so long, that they fell in the same category as married couples or those in a civil partnership. Unfortunately, she was wrong: there is no provision for unmarried couples to benefit under the rules of intestacy. They had no children and Miss had no parents so all of her estate went to her only sister.
Please see more information here about the rules of intestacy on the Government website.