Making a will. What are you waiting for?
2 in every 3 UK citizens haven’t made a will, according to a recent survey by Macmillan Cancer Support. And, worryingly, over 1.5m people may have unknowingly made their wills void by getting married.
At least 20% of those surveyed, admitted they planned to update their wills to include children and grandchildren, but hadn’t got around to doing so.
Official guidance recommends that wills should be reviewed ‘every five years and after any major life changes’. Yet according to recent stats, 25% of wills have not been updated for at least five years.
5 good reasons for making a will
- A valid will allows you to control who will inherit your property after your death. If you have no will at the date of your death, you die intestate. Your property will be distributed according to law which may not be what you wish to happen. In some cases your estate may go to the Crown instead of the people you want to benefit.
- Equally important, in your will you decide who will be responsible for dealing with everything – your executor, and who will act as guardian for young children.
- You can also use your will to express your preference for burial or cremation and for donating organs or your entire body for medical purposes.
- In addition, making a will could help to reduce the liability to inheritance tax on your death. This is particularly important if you have substantial assets.
- When you die leaving a valid will, legal ownership of all your property passes automatically to the executors appointed by the will. In order to prove that they have the right to deal with the estate, they must apply for a legal document confirming their rights from the Probate Registry. This is called obtaining probate.
Separating fact from fiction
I have nothing to leave
However little you may have, it’s better to say who you’d like to receive it. If you add up the value of your home, your car, bank and building society accounts, premium bonds, life policies and other savings – you’ll probably be surprised how much you have.
I am married and I want all I have to go to go to my husband, wife or partner – do I still need a will?
Yes. Many people believe that spouses inherit everything from each other. This isn’t always the case. If you leave a large estate, your spouse would have to share your property with your children or other relatives if you have no children predetermined by law. It may be that this isn’t what you would want at all.
We have registered a Civil Partnership, what effect does this have?
Registered Civil Partners have the same entitlement as married couples.
We are not married. Does this make a difference?
Absolutely. Co-habitees (however long their relationship) do not automatically inherit from each other.
I have step-relations and I would like them to receive something
You need to include step-relations in a will because they do not inherit automatically.
Who will carry out my wishes?
You will need to appoint executors to your will. They will make sure the terms of your will are carried out after your death. It is usual to appoint between one and four executors; they can be members of your family, a solicitor, other professional adviser, friends or any combination. The executor may also benefit from the will.
I am too young to make a will!
Tragically people die at all ages. Make a will while you are able do so.
Are there specific tax rules that apply to inheritance?
Yes. There’s an overview of current Inheritance Tax rules available on the government website. However, we can explain how inheritance tax is charged and discuss ways of reducing the tax bill – no-one wants to leave their saving to the tax man!
Should I prepare the will myself?
You can. However, your will is an important legal document. Commonly used words and expressions can have different meaning in law, so it’s important to make sure it’s drafted properly so your wishes are carried out. Also, make sure your will is properly signed and witnessed – otherwise it may not be valid.
What is Intestacy?
If you die without making a valid will, you die intestate. The management of your estate is then placed in the hands of administrators who are appointed by the court and who are likely to be close members of your family. The administrators distribute your estate according to rules of intestacy.
In the meantime, if you need further advice or assistance on making a will or any other related matter, please contact us, we’re here to help.
Please note that all views, comments or opinions expressed are for information only and do not constitute and should not be interpreted as being comprehensive or as giving legal advice. No one should seek to rely or act upon, or refrain from acting upon, the views, comments or opinions expressed herein without first obtaining specialist, professional or independent advice. While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, Curtis Parkinson cannot be held liable for any errors, omissions or inaccuracies.