Why have a Will?

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What is a Will?
  • A document that appoints people (executors) to look after your affairs after you die, and instructs them how to do so.
What if you die without a Will?
  • Intestacy – statutory rules apply as to who has responsibility to deal with your estate and act as administrator and who receives your estate
  • the Administrators and beneficiaries will be family (in an order of priority) – but may not be the same people you would choose! The Administrators may not always be the most capable people for the task, and this may lead to disagreements
  • it may be that your estate would even pass to relatives you don’t like!
  • if there is no-one within the specified categories, your estate goes to the government
  • do not assume everything would pass to your spouse/civil partner – if there are children, then if your estate is worth more than £250,000 the children will receive a share (potentially causing difficultly with children receiving share of matrimonial home!)
  • beneficiaries will inherit at age of 18 (regardless of whether they are good with money or not!)
  • co-habiting partners have NO automatic right to inherit
  • also no provision step-children, godchildren or charities.
Advantages of making a Will
  • choose the most suitable Executors – this is a lot of responsibility, so think about financial abilities, and who will be able to work together in difficult circumstances
  • make gifts to others – for example, grandchildren, other family members , friends, and charities
  • ensure your surviving spouse/civil partner/partner is properly provided for
  • allows you to appoint guardians to look after your children if you die while they are young
  • ensure that your estate is protected for your own children in the event your surviving spouse/civil partner/partner remarries, goes into care, or goes bankrupt, for example
  • take advice on tax planning
  • gifts to charity in the Will may allow your estate to pay Inheritance Tax at a lower rate
  • it puts you in control.
Why don’t people have Wills?
  • 73% of 16-54 year olds don’t have a Will. Majority of those are men.
  • Cost may deter some people.
  • Wills may control hundreds of thousands of pounds, so worth spending a bit on making sure you get it right!
  • worry about tempting fate!
Updating your Will
  • an out of date will may be as good as no Will at all
  • usually a Will is automatically revoked if you subsequently marry/enter into a civil partnership
  • your own family circumstances will change over time, and so will your finances and the law
  • consider reviewing your Will if it is older than five years.
Capacity to make a Will
To make a valid Will you need to have mental capacity. As lawyers, if we have any doubt as to a client’s mental capacity we would obtain a capacity assessment from a medical professional. Where a person lacks capacity to make Will, we should consider whether to make an application to the court of protection for a Statutory Will for them, where it is in their best interest to do so. This is a lengthy and costly process.


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