The creation of a will can assist in providing protection for your loved ones after your passing and ensuring that your estate is distributed in accordance with your wishes. Here, we break out the most important considerations for why you should draught a will.
What is a will?
A will is a document that you draw up in the presence of a lawyer that outlines your wishes on who should inherit your property and what should take place when you pass away.
It contains the manner in which you would like your goods to be dispersed, the type of burial service that you would like to have, and any other preferences that you may have, such as who should raise your children, if you have any.
It is a document that is legally binding, and it is sometimes known as your final will and testament. However, if you don’t create it properly, it may not be legitimate in the future.
You are free to make your own will, but if you have a difficult estate or simply want some assistance, you can seek the assistance of an attorney or an experienced will-writer. Writing your own will is not required.
Some estimates put the percentage of persons who do not have a will at as high as sixty percent. In the event that you pass away without one, your inheritance will be distributed in accordance with stringent laws, which means the individuals who are important to you may be disinherited.
Are you making a will?
You can create a will and have Which? examine it if you are interested in receiving assistance. Wills, and if you buy one between now and the 30th of April, you get a discount of 30%.
The most important reasons to draught a will
We take a look at some of the most compelling arguments in favour of writing a will, as well as the consequences for those left behind if you pass away without leaving a testament.
1. Draft a will that specifies who will take care of your children if you pass away.
When you write a will, your primary responsibility is not to decide how your estate will be split. You also have the ability to choose who will be responsible for the care of your dependents. You have the ability to choose legal guardians for them if they are under the age of 18.
In the event that you do not, the choice may be handed over to the family courts, which may select a person with whom you would disagree.
It’s possible that you’ve asked close friends or family members to stand in as godparents for your kids, but this doesn’t tie them in any way legally.
Learn more about it here:
drafting a will for first-time parents
2. Make sure that your kids have enough money to live comfortably.
You can establish plans to provide for your children financially in the future, in addition to deciding who will be responsible for raising your children. This could involve setting aside funds for their education, ensuring that they receive a predetermined amount each year for clothing or hobbies, or building up a savings account for them to use when they are ready to purchase a home.
You should give some thought to establishing a trust in order to provide for your children since this enables you to exercise some degree of control over the circumstances under which your children receive the money and how they spend it.
You can form a trust in one of two ways: either while you are still alive and do it while you are alive, or you can leave instructions for it to be established after your death and have it done after your death.
Check out our comprehensive guide to will trusts to discover more about the various alternatives available to you, as well as how they operate and the potential costs involved.
3. Ensure the financial well-being of your dependents, including any stepchildren
The law specifies that only spouses or blood relations can automatically inherit if there is no will, thus even if your step-children are an important part of your life or even if they are the only children you have, they cannot inherit automatically.
You will need to include your step-children in your will if you intend to provide for them financially in the event that you pass away. The same rule applies to children you have taken in as foster care or any other dependents who might rely on you for financial support.
4. Protect your partner if you’re unmarried
No of how long you’ve been together, unmarried partners have no legal claim to anything from your estate unless it’s clearly stated in the will of the deceased person.
The creation of a will assures that your partner will receive their rightful portion of your inheritance upon your passing.
5. Ensure the safety of your home for your family.
In the event that you pass away without leaving a will, your unmarried partner and stepchildren do not immediately become eligible to inherit the family home if the property is in your name. This means that they run the risk of being evicted from the property.
You have the option of include them in your will and leaving them either a portion of the property or the right to continue living in the home.
6. Put an end to arguments within the family
If there is no will or if your preferences aren’t made clear, the process of dividing up an inheritance can unfortunately occasionally lead to squabbles and conflicts among the survivors of the deceased.
Contested wills can be harmful to the relationships that you have within your family, and they can also be costly if the decisions that are made regarding your estate are challenged in court.
If you have a will that is well-prepared, it can help you avoid these disagreements and prevent your passing from causing your survivors any additional hardship.
7. Stay away from paying more inheritance tax than is absolutely necessary.
The amount of inheritance tax that will be levied on your estate is determined not only by the size of your estate but also by who you choose to leave it to when you pass away.
If you leave anything to your spouse or civil partner, the inheritance will be free from inheritance tax automatically.
When compared to leaving property to other people, including your children and grandchildren as beneficiaries of your estate is likely to result in a lesser inheritance tax liability.
Discover more about inheritance tax, including its thresholds, rates, and payers here.
8. If you’ve been married for a short time, you should draw out a will.
If you get married in England or Wales, your previous marriage will immediately be deemed null and void. This means that, according to the rules of intestacy, your estate could end up being shared between your new spouse and children from a prior marriage, which could lead to problems in the future.
If you get married in Scotland, however, your previous will is not automatically invalidated. This means that if you pass away, your new spouse may not inherit anything from your estate if you did not include them in your previous will.
Additionally, getting divorced does not nullify your will, which means that even after the divorce, your ex-spouse may still be eligible to receive from your estate.
As a result, it is important to examine your will on a frequent basis to ensure that it continues to accurately reflect your circumstances, particularly after major life changes such as marriage or divorce.
9. Determine with whom you would feel most comfortable settling your estate.
You have the ability to appoint an executor, or many executors, within your will. These individuals will be responsible for following out your last directives.
When you choose your executor in advance, you have the ability to select the one who is most qualified for the job. In addition to this, it provides the executor with advance notice so that they can get ready.
Have a look at our guide to the probate process if you want to find out more about the duties that come with serving as an executor.
10. Specify the people you want to take care of your animals.
In the event that you pass away, your pets, whether they be dogs, cats, or any other kind, would likely need to be cared for.
Only a few dogs have been known to inherit significant wealth, such as the German Shepherd Gunther IV, who was given a sum in the nine figures after his owner passed away in 1992. However, a more frequent practise is to choose a caretaker for them and set aside some funds to ensure that they have adequate nutrition and medical attention.
11. Take precautions to safeguard your digital assets.
These days, money in the bank and material possessions aren’t the only things that might be considered assets. Your digital accounts and online purchases, such as music, images, or websites, are also considered part of your belongings; nevertheless, if you do not account for them in your will, they may be lost forever.
Things like email accounts and social media profiles are also a part of your legacy; ask yourself whether you want the material to be protected or destroyed, and consider whether or not your executor will need access to any passwords.
You can discover additional information regarding this topic in our guide on what to include in your will.
12. Donate to a good cause.
If you are a donor to a charitable organisation, you might consider leaving anything to that organisation in your will.
When is it necessary to create a new will?
As you progress through life, the circumstances in which you find yourself shift, and with them, the possible dangers and difficulties associated with your passing.
You should give some thought to drafting a new will:
when you have a partner with whom you have not married but who is entitled to inherit from your estate.
if you get married after your previous will has already been revoked (in England and Wales) or if it does not include your new spouse in the bequests (in Scotland).
When you have a child so that you can choose someone to be their guardian when they are an adult.
When you make a huge purchase or come into a large amount of unexpected money.
If you get divorced, your prior will won’t necessarily be rendered invalid just because of that fact.
When you desire to provide for step-children, foster children, or dependents who are not your biological children.
In the event that your spouse passes away and the estate was left to them in your prior will.
What happens if a person passes away without leaving a will?
In the event that you pass away without leaving a will, your inheritance will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy. This indicates that you will have limited control over the individuals who will benefit from your estate.
You may learn more about this in our comprehensive guide to the rules of intestacy.
Reasons why parents should have a will
It’s possible that writing a will is the last thing on your mind as you adjust to your new, hectic life as a parent, but doing so is something that you should absolutely do if you have kids.
If your children are under the age of 18 when you pass away, you have the ability to appoint guardians for them by signing a will.
You can learn more by reading our comprehensive guide on writing wills for parents.
Ensure that your will is valid and enforceable.
A will that has not been signed, witnessed, and witnessed properly is not legitimate.
There must be two witnesses for any legal proceeding in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. When you sign the will, you and both witnesses are required to be present in the same room together.
If you want to write a will in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland, you have to be at least 18 years old. To “witness” your signature, a witness is not required to possess any particular qualifications or hold a certain position in the community.
On the other hand, they are not allowed to have any kind of beneficial interest in the will, as this may render the will void. This indicates that they are not eligible to receive any gifts from the will and cannot be mentioned as beneficiaries in the document.
Even if there isn’t even a single witness present, a will written in Scotland may still be upheld in court if certain conditions are met. However, this is the exception rather than the rule. Anyone who has reached the age of 12 or is older can write a will.