Making a Will – can you afford to put it off any longer?

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When we are out and about at agricultural shows and on farm walks we often talk to people about what has been happening in their family or what the future holds.

One question which comes up time and time again is: “Should I make a Will?”

When large families and farm assets are involved, making a Will can seem complicated and it’s all too easy to put it off. Yet not making a Will can cause anxiety and confusion for the loved ones left behind. It can also give HMRC an unnecessary revenue boost if fairly simple tax planning has not been followed.

Here are some common reasons people give for not making a Will:

I don’t need a Will because my spouse will inherit my estate

Wrong! If you have children, your spouse or civil partner will not automatically inherit everything unless your estate is worth less than £250,000. If it is worth more, your spouse will receive personal chattels, £250,000 and a life interest in 50% of the balance, with the remainder going outright to your children. This is often messy and expensive to iron out.

If you are married without children, your spouse will receive your entire estate.  This comes into force on 1st October 2014.  If you are single but cohabiting, your partner will not automatically be entitled to anything unless stated in your Will!

Even if I make a Will, couldn’t my family alter it after my death using a Deed of Variation?

Deeds of Variation should only be used in exceptional circumstances – they allow a family to adapt a Will only where it makes sense to do so, such as when a Will is out of date. Beneficiaries of a Will should not assume that a Deed of Variation will be available – for instance, it cannot be used if any minors are named as beneficiaries.

I have a Will which needs to be updated, but I just can’t find the time.

Wills can become out of date for all sorts of reasons, including changes in individual or family circumstances or changes in inheritance tax rules. You should therefore keep your Will under constant review.

Making or updating a Will is the only way to ensure that your family and your assets will be properly protected.


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