Why do I need a will ?
The decision to make a Will can be prompted by many things, a change in family circumstances such as a birth, marriage, divorce or a death. Perhaps it's concerns about future tax liabilities, care home fees or a desire to ensure that assets that have been built up are fully protected. Whatever the reasons it is always a wise decision to make a will.
YOU SHOULD MAKE A WILL IF YOU WANT TO....
A person who dies without a Will or with an invalid Will is said to have died intestate. This means that their estate will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy. As a result inheritance may not go to whom they would have wished or it could even go to the Crown. It is a common misconception that married or couples in a civil partnership are automatically entitled to inherit everything from each other. This is not the case, however a Will gives total control over what happens to an estate.
SAVE TIME AND MONEY
Administering an estate without a Will almost always costs more and takes more time, sometimes many years. A valid Will ensures that your family are spared this extra burden at an already distressing time. A Will makes your wishes perfectly clear and can provide relief and comfort for your loved ones.
A valid Will allows you to appoint guardians of your choice to look after your children if they are under 18. This ensures that the responsibility for this important decision is not left to Social Services. It also eliminates the risk of them being taken into the care of Social Services whilst this decision is being made. A Will also allows you to decide at what age you would like your children to inherit.
PROTECT UNMARRIED PARTNERS
Couples who are not married or in a civil partnership will not inherit from each other unless a valid Will is in place. The terms 'common law husband and wife' simply do not exist in estate law.
PROVIDE FOR WHOMEVER IS IMPORTANT TO YOU
Just as with unmarried partners, if you want to leave anything to stepchildren, friends, cohabitees, pets or charities you will need to make a will. It doesn’t matter how explicitly you have made your wishes known in advance to family or friends. If they’re not in a Will, they won’t count.
MINIMISE INHERITANCE TAX DUE
A properly drafted Will which includes the appropriate trusts can limit the amount of tax that may be due on your estate. Particularly for couples (whether married or unmarried) there are significantly more opportunities to protect your assets and limit inheritance tax – many of these options disappear when one of you dies.
PROVIDE FOR VULNERABLE BENEFICIARIES
A Will containing the appropriate trusts can provide for the future of vulnerable beneficiaries and ensure a beneficiary is provided for even when they may be financially irresponsible, or subject to bankruptcy or divorce proceedings. It can also ensure that the income related benefits of disabled beneficiaries are not affected.
PROTECT YOUR ASSETS
Using a trust to ringfence certain assets can protect them in a number of ways. For example, if your spouse or partner remarries or changes their Will a trust can prevent your estate being diverted away from your children. Or prevent your estate being used to pay creditors of your spouse/partner or for their care fees in later life. A trust can also protect assets from any bankruptcy or divorce proceedings a beneficiary may be involved in.
MAKE A CHANGE TO YOU MARITAL STATUS
If you have recently or are planning to marry and have not made a new Will or did not make your previous Will in contemplation of this recent marriage you do not have a valid Will in place. Therefore your estate would be subject to the intestacy rules. This is due to the fact that marriage invalidates any existing Will and divorce can change the way it works. If you die before a divorce has been completed you may inadvertently end up leaving assets to your spouse.
CHOOSE YOU EXECUTORS
Without a Will in place the law sets out who should deal with your affairs. Acting as an executor is a responsible and sometimes complicated job. In these circumstances it may be that the person designated for the role may not want it, may not be competent or may not be the person you would have chosen. A will allows you to be sure that your wishes will be followed by whomsoever you see best fit.
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SAFEGUARD YOUR FAMILY'S FUTURE
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