A large proportion of the population have no Will. Many people either just don’t want to think about the possibility of their own death, or assume that if they die their estate will go to the people they want. Unfortunately in many cases it won’t and your estate could end up going to people you didn’t intend, as well as causing potential problems for your loved ones.
Here are the ten most important reasons to make a Will.
1. Make sure your estate goes to the people you want to provide for
Fundamentally, it is a matter of choice. If you make a Will you decide what happens to everything you own when you die. If you don’t make a Will, then when you pass away you will be referred to as “dying intestate” and your estate will be divided according to the intestacy rules, meaning your assets may go to people you would not have intended and people you wanted to provide for may be left out.
2. Give security to an unmarried partner
If you are you living with someone to whom you are not married and die without leaving a Will, your partner will not be entitled to any of your estate, except where there are assets you own jointly. Making a Will can allow you to leave assets from your estate to your partner, ensuring their long-term welfare is provided for.
3. Ensure your dependents’ needs will be met
If you have children under 18 or other dependants, it is important to ensure their needs are met if you pass away before they are able to care for themselves. Your Will can allow you to make provision for assets to be held in trust for your children’s benefit until they are old enough to manage those assets for themselves. You can also appoint guardians to look after your minor children if you should pass away before they have attained the age of 18.
4. Protect your children’s inheritance when getting remarried
If you are getting married and have children from a previous relationship, this can cause complications with inheritance. If you do not have a Will, your new spouse will automatically stand to inherit most or all of your estate if you pass away, superseding your children’s claim. It is therefore essential to set out your wishes in a Will to ensure your children are not left out.
5. Give your partner or children the right to stay in your home after your death
If you own your own home it may need to be sold once you pass away in order to divide your estate effectively between your heirs. However, if you are sharing the house with your spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, children or other dependants, you may want to make sure they are not thrown out of their home when you pass away.
By making a Will you can create a ‘life interest’ in the property for your loved one meaning they can stay in the house for as long as they live, while still allowing your children or other intended beneficiaries to inherit the house.
6. Provide for a vulnerable loved one’s long-term care
If you have a child or other loved one who is a vulnerable person needing long-term care, creating a Will can make sure their welfare needs continue to be met when you are no longer around. This might involve setting up a trust to provide for them financially as well as various other practical measures.
7. Minimise your estate’s liability for Inheritance Tax
By making the right choices over how your estate is handled, you can often reduce the overall Inheritance Tax bill due when you pass away. This might involve making lifetime gifts while you are still alive, placing certain assets into a trust, as well as various other options.
8. Place your estate into the hands of someone you trust
As part of making a Will, you can name one or more people to act as the Executor of your estate when you die. They will be responsible for handling probate, including paying Inheritance Tax and making sure your bequests are given out as instructed. Making a Will helps to ensure this role will be handled by someone you trust.
9. Help your loved ones avoid unnecessary conflict
Unfortunately, inheritance issues are often a major source of conflict between loved ones of the deceased. Making a Will helps to ensure your wishes are clear, minimising the possibilities of a dispute between your loved ones as well as limiting the opportunities for anyone to challenge your wishes after you are gone.
10. Give yourself peace of mind
One of the simplest but most important reasons to make a Will is that it can give you peace of mind from the knowledge that your estate and loved ones will be taken care of when you die and that all of the proper details have been considered and accounted for. Many people comment on what a relief it is to have their affairs in order and to know that they are not leaving their loved ones with any potential problems or uncertainty for the future.