Why Write a Will?

A Will is a legal document that sets out instructions for who will inherit your estate and what you would like to happen after you die.  As many as 60% of Brits don’t have a Will and if you die without one, possessions and savings will be divided according to strict legal guidelines, so your intended wishes may not be carried out (read more in our blog – Dying Without a Will here).  For many of us death, or the prospect of death, is something we would rather not think about.  However, someone will be left with the stress of sorting out your estate and taking care of your property and affairs and therefore making a Will should be viewed as a positive and it will help take this stress away at an already difficult time.

1 Save time, money and stress for loved ones

People often put off creating or updating their Will because they assume their loved ones will automatically get an inheritance.  This is sometimes true, but it isn’t always the case. Probate can be a long and expensive process for your loved ones.  A Will only addresses your current circumstances, so it’s good practice to review it every 3-5 years or as your needs and the people in your life change.  The great news is a Will isn’t fixed and it can be changed to suit you.

2 Decide who you would like to settle your affairs

Almost all estates have to go to probate court to start the legal process of distributing your assets.  Applying for probate is the responsibility of your Executor.  This is the person in charge of wrapping up all your affairs and it is an important job.  Their responsibilities may include selling property and closing bank accounts.  It is important to choose someone capable and who you trust to carry out these activities.  When you don’t have a Will the court process can be extra complicated and without a Will the court will name an administrator to administer your estate and it may not be the person you would want.

3 Decide who gets your assets and property (and who does not)

A Will lets you decide who will get your property.  You can also name people as beneficiaries for specific assets or gifts and any property not specifically listed – called the residuary of your estate.  Your Executor will oversee the distributing these assets.

You can also exclude somebody from your assets and make sure they don’t receive anything.  For example you might want to exclude an ex-spouse or if a child received extra support you might want to make sure other children get their fair share too

4 Make a will to name Guardians for your children

When writing a Will you don’t just decide how your estate is divided up, you also get to say who should look after your dependents and appoint their legal guardians.  Without this the decision would be made by the family court and they may not choose who you would want.

You may have named friends or family members as your children’s godparents, but this isn’t legally binding.  The surviving parent will usually get sole legal custody if one parent dies but if both parents pass complications can arise; this is one of the most important reasons to have a Will.

A Guardian will be responsible for all your children’s daily needs, including food, housing, healthcare, education and clothing.

5 Look after your children and step-children

As well as saying who will raise your children, you can make plans to provide financially for their future.  This might be putting money aside for their education or establishing a nest egg to buy a home.  You may wish to set up a trust to provide for children, as this gives you an element of control over when your children receive the money and what it is for.  You can also appoint trustees for the trust and give them your wishes as to how the money is spent or invested.

The law states that only spouses, civil partners, or blood relatives can inherit if there is no Will.  Your Stepchildren may be a big part of your life but if you want to provide for them you will need to write a Will that includes them.  The same goes for foster children or any other dependants who may rely on you for support but wouldn’t automatically be entitled to anything under the law.

6 Protect your partner if you are not married

Unmarried partners aren’t entitled to anything from your estate unless specially stated in your Will, no matter how long you have been together.  By writing a Will you can ensure your partner will receive their fair share of your Estate, you can even give them the right to occupy your property for life or another stated term, even if you bequeath the house to you children.

7 Head off family disputes

Unfortunately dividing an estate can sadly sometimes lead to arguments or disagreements amongst your surviving loved ones if there is no Will to make your wishes clear.  Contested Wills can be expensive if decisions about your estate are legally contested, as well as damaging to relationships among your family and loved ones

8 Avoiding paying more inheritance tax than you have to

Inheritance tax is not only based on the value of your estate but also on whom you leave it to.  Anything left to your spouse or civil partner will automatically be exempt from inheritance tax.  Property left to your children or grandchildren can generate a lower inheritance tax bill by using the Residential Nil Rate Band Allowance.

Other ways can include creating the right trust within your Will for the inheritance to pass down in a more tax efficient way.

9 Make provisions for the care of a pet

People often worry what will happen to their much-loved pets if they were to die.  You can include provision in your Will to make sure your pet is cared for and appoint a Guardian for them.  It is best to discuss this with your proposed Guardian to ensure they would be willing to take on the role.

10 Gift money to a charity or political party

Many people choose to leave some of their wealth to a nominated charity when they die.  Maybe you or a loved one benefited from a charity, and you want to give something back or maybe you strongly support their cause.  This can have two benefits: supporting a great cause and reducing the amount of Inheritance Tax paid by your family.

11 Protect your digital assets

It’s becoming more and more common that your assets   don’t just include money in the bank and physical goods,  but also digital accounts and online purchases or websites.  In your Will you can name a digital Executor to manage these assets after you pass.  You can leave them to specific people and include information on how you want them to be handled i.e. close the account.

If you would like to discuss your Will further or review a current Will to check it is still relevant you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

T: 0114 399 5236

E: info@morganwillsandtrusts.co.uk

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Based in Sheffield covering South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and further afield.

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