Without a Will you have no control over who will receive any property, money and personal items as the Intestacy rules stipulate how your estate will be distributed.
Many people do not realise that a surviving spouse does not automatically receive all of a deceased husband or wife’s estate and unmarried partners or same sex couples receive nothing. Therefore, the death of a partner or spouse may lead to significant financial hardship and the people you may want to benefit from your property and affairs may not do so.
People who die without a Will are leaving unnecessary work, complications and costs to their family and friends and often unintentionally gift thousands of pounds to HMRC in avoidable Inheritance tax.
Wills are not just for the elderly and every adult should have a Will, especially if any of the following apply:
• You have Children.
• You are married or separating after a marriage.
• You co-habit, have a long term partner or are in a same sex couple.
• You have assets over £325,000, Business Interests or Agricultural Interests.
• You wish to specifically benefit / exclude a family member.
• You have retired.
A Will encompasses more than simply the division of your finance and property. You can also state your wishes for other personal matters.
• Appoint Guardians for Children.
All to often no provision is made for parental control of minor children which can lead to disputes through the courts. In a Will, should the worst occur, you can specify who you would like to raise your children and make financial provision to assist with living costs.
• Protect Property from Care Home Fees.
As an ageing population, more of us are requiring residential care as we get older. At an average of £600 per week, people are seeing savings and property intended to pass down to loved ones being decimated by the cost of care. Steps can be taken under your Will to safeguard your property.
• Specify Funeral arrangements.
Often people like to specify funeral requests under a Will to relieve family members from having to make tough, emotional choices over funeral arrangements once they have passed away.
You may need to review your Will if your personal circumstances change, for example:
• Moving property.
• Separation or Divorce.
• Children are now adults.
• Births, deaths or marriages.
• Change in financial circumstances.
Did you know that entering a marriage or civil partnership automatically revokes an existing Will?
As a rule of thumb you should consider your Will matches your requirements every 5 – 10 years.
People’s financial and family circumstances are becoming more complex and we are seeing increasing numbers of second or third marriages, adopted children and family disputes. It is vitally important to consider who might have a claim on your estate and to whom you might owe a responsibility.
Some Will Writers will pigeon hole people into the limited precedents acquired on a half day Will writing course. If a Will Writer fails to comply with technical requirements such as ambiguous or misleading wording. Failure to consider an individual’s full circumstances has led to an increase in litigation and applications to Court to try and rectify concerns.
Recently a Will provided by a Will Writer left an estate to the deceased’s children. The deceased had no children and had instructed that the estate went to her nieces and nephews but the Will Writer had just used a standard precedent. Court applications were required to rectify the Will which costed thousands of pounds.
The administration of your estate should not become a problem for your bereaved family. There are many factors to be taken into consideration when planning your Will and it is important that you take qualified legal advice and invest appropriate time. Don’t leave your family to argue over your estate, face long expensive Court hearings and become divided.
Our specialist Wills team includes members of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) Solicitors for the Elderly and the Law Society’s Private Client Section and have considerable experience in drawing up Wills and estate planning.
Mrs A had recently married for the second time (marriage always revokes a previous will) and she had adult children from her first marriage.
She also owned her own house and this was her main asset. Mrs A wanted to make sure that, on her death; her new husband would be able to stay in the house if he wished to do so but that, on his death, the house would pass to her children.
We were able to explain to Mrs A the various options available to her to protect both her new husband and her adult children. We were then able to prepare a Will for Mrs A which provided for Mr A to remain in the property but added various safeguards which Mrs A required to ensure that Mr A paid the outgoings on the property and kept it in good repair so that it would still be a valuable asset when it eventually passed to her children.
We were also able to safeguard the property if Mr A were to remarry or cohabit after Mrs A’s death.
In this way Mrs A was able to have peace of mind that she had made suitable provision for all her family in the event of her death.