Why Make a Will?
Why make a will? – It makes sense all round
Do you want a say in where your assets are being left when you die or would you prefer the State to decide who should get what? If you and your partner are not married or in a civil partnership this may lead to your partner receiving nothing from your Estate.
If you do not have a Will then the State will decide how your Estate is to be distributed between your beneficiaries. This distribution will probably not be in accordance with how you expected your assets to be distributed and may land your family with an unexpected inheritance tax bill. If you and your partner are co-habiting then they may not be entitled to anything from your Estate. Contrary to belief there is no such thing as a Common Law Spouse and if there is no Will providing for them they may have to resort to making a legal claim against the Estate to show that they are a “dependent” of your Estate. This takes a lot of time and money to complete.
If you die without a Will and have no surviving spouse or Civil Partner then your Estate will be left to your children, if there are no children then your Estate would go to any surviving parents, then brothers and sisters, then half brothers and sisters, then grandparents and then Aunts and Uncles. If there are no relatives in these categories then the Estate will pass to the Crown. These are the stark realities of dying intestate.
Even if you are married your spouse may not receive all of your Estate if the total value is more than £250,000 and you have children. Your spouse would only be entitled to £250,000, the personal chattels and half of the remainder. Your children would receive the balance. This could be disastrous for a couple who have children from a previous relationship.
Not having a Will could have dire consequences and I have seen cases where there was no Will and although the Deceased had a partner they were not married and had not formally divorced their first spouse. As a result of not leaving a Will the Estate went to the former spouse and not to their current partner despite living together for 10 years. I have also seen a case where there was no Will and the Estate passed to a brother who the Deceased had not seen or spoken to in decades and was the last person he had wished to benefit.
If you do not have a Will you should be aware of the consequences of not having one and who would benefit if you died. Would you be happy with how the State would share out your Estate or would you prefer to have a say in where your wealth eventually goes?
Personal and sentimental items are often the most contentious element of an Estate and you need to ensure that important items are dealt with as you would wish.
Have you considered who your financial dependents are and will they be adequately looked after you have gone?
Do you have children under 18? If so have you considered what will happen to them if something happened to you and your partner? If you have not appointed a legal guardian for them in your Will have you considered who will look after them after you have gone? Are you happy for the state to decide who is best able to care for them? They may even decide that the best course is a foster home or being put into the care of the local authority.
If you do not have a Will then you should consider taking urgent action to give you peace of mind that the persons you wish to benefit will actually do so and you will not inadvertently involve them in long stressful legal actions to receive what you wanted them to receive.
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