Paris Drew, Private Client Solicitor at Girlings Solicitors reviews her 10 top reasons on why you should write a Will.
The key reason to write a Will is that, if you do not, you will die intestate (without a Will) and your assets will be divided in accordance with the Intestacy Rules which are decided by the Government.
A validly executed Will is the only way to ensure your wishes for your assets are carried out on your death. A verbal agreement with your family or friends will not be binding! You can also include provisions for your funeral.
3. To help your loved ones
It is often a source of comfort that family can be sure they are carrying out the wishes of the person who has died and this can also help to reduce any risk of conflict.
4. Inheritance Tax
A solicitor will be able to assess your assets and advise you about Inheritance Tax at your Wills consultation. If your estate is likely to be taxable, your solicitor can assist you in mitigating your potential Inheritance Tax liability. Your Will can be a useful tool in ensuring your estate benefits from various Inheritance Tax exemptions and reliefs.
5. To plan for future circumstances
Your Will allows you to set out wishes for your assets in the event that one or more of your beneficiaries die before you. This gives you ultimate control over how your estate will be divided in a variety of situations you may not have considered.
6. To exclude individuals
If there are people you do not wish to benefit from your assets, you can discuss this with your solicitor. The solicitor will be able to advise you of the best ways to reduce the risk of an individual challenging your Will, including preparing a Letter of Wishes to act as evidence.
7. Survivorship/discretionary trust assets
Some joint assets pass to the surviving joint owner or to a nominated person regardless of your Will. Depending on your circumstances these assets can include your property, bank accounts and life assurance policies. Your solicitor can advise you which of your assets this may apply to, how to prevent or change it and draft your Will taking that information into account.
8. Will Trusts
A well drafted Will Trust can be useful in circumstances involving children from previous relationships, vulnerable beneficiaries and the protection of the home from care fees or future relationships.
9. Unmarried couples
There is no such thing as a common law spouse! If you die without leaving a Will your partner will not automatically inherit your estate and may have to make a claim against your estate to receive assets.
If you are due to marry or have recently married, it is essential to update or create a Will. Marriage revokes any Will you have made prior to the marriage and may mean you die without a valid Will in place.
10. Divorce & Separation
Divorce will mean that your ex spouse is treated as having died before you when interpreting provisions in your Will. It is therefore essential to review your Will to ensure the remaining clauses continue to be effective in the way you would like.
If you are separated but not yet divorced, and you do not wish for your spouse to benefit from your estate, you should consider changing your Will immediately. If you die before the divorce is finalised, your Will is still effective and your spouse may inherit from your estate.
If you would like to discuss making a Will, contact a member of Girlings' Private Client team who would be delighted to help.
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