A will makes it much easier for your family or friends to sort everything out when you die. Without a will the process can be extremely time consuming, stressful and sometimes, expensive. If you die without ever having made a will, everything you own will be shared out in a way defined by law. This might not be the way you would have distributed your estate which is why writing a will is extremely important.
Another important reason to write a will is that it can be used to reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax owed to HMRC. Writing a will is especially important if you have children or other dependants who rely on your support financially. You can name the person/s you wish to act as guardians. Or if you want to leave something to people outside your immediate family, writing this into a will is the only way to ensure this will happen.
A will has several functions, including:
- Naming who should take possession of your belongings after you die.
- Naming who should act as ‘executor’, the person/people who distribute/s your estate and follows any instructions left in your will.
- Minimising inheritance tax.
- Appointing legal guardians for any minors/dependants.
- Reflecting changes in life circumstances, ie: marriage, divorce, the birth of children or grandchildren
- Ensuring personal items are left to specific people
- The setting up of trusts
- The making of gifts to charity.
What happens if you don't leave a will?
If you die without having written a will you are known as having died intestate. This means your money, property and possessions will be shared out in accordance with laws that follow the same process for everyone regardless of their wealth and family circumstances. This can mean people who you did not intend to inherit from you take possession of your most treasured items, even your home and those closest to you inherit nothing at all.
These are some of the rules that the law follows if you die intestate:
- If you are not married or in a civil partnership, your partner will not automatically inherit anything at all when you die.
- If you are married (even if separated), your spouse could inherit all of your estate and your children, nothing. (Scotland has different laws to this).
- If you have children or grandchildren, how much they will automatically inherit depends on where about in the UK you are.
- The Inheritance Tax owed on your estate might be higher than if you had distributed your wealth in a tax efficient manner in a will.
- If you have no close relatives, upon your passing, your estate, in its entirety, will belong to the Government. This is known as ‘bona vacantia’.
Dying without a will can lead to a number of complicated situations, all of which could see your loved ones drawn into expensive legal situations which could result in family disputes and your belongings ending up in the wrong hands.
This can be avoided entirely by writing a will for the small price of £29, (or £49 for a dual will). By contacting one of our will writing specialists (this is a personal service and not an online process). Set the ball rolling now and get the peace of mind that comes with protecting the interests of your nearest and dearest in preparation for times when you won’t be here to do that yourself.