Having a Will written is usually a very simple process, yet according to research by the Office of the Public Guardian, around two thirds of British adults haven’t made a Will.
It’s astounding to think that the average Brit spends £££s on home/car/health insurance every year, but gives very little thought to protecting the succession of assets built up over a lifetime. A typical simple Will costs a lot less than you might think and only needs you to commit an hour or two of your time. Your Will writer will complete all of the necessary paperwork for you, so there really is no excuse not to make one!
If you pass away without having made a Will, your money, property and possessions will be distributed according to the Laws of Intestacy. This means that the people you want to inherit your estate may not do so, and conversely, those whom you do not want to inherit may end up with all your assets!
For example, if you and your partner are neither married nor in a civil partnership, your partner would end up with nothing from your estate, and could potentially be made homeless as a result. Whilst if you are separated, but not divorced, your estranged spouse would actually end up inheriting some, if not all, of your estate!
If you have underage or vulnerable children and haven’t left a Will appointing guardians, they could be taken into care until the Court has appointed guardians on your behalf.
Making a Will can benefit you and everyone you care about. You can:
- choose who inherits your estate, and in what proportions
- ensure your dependants are provided for
- safeguard your children and their future by appointing guardians for them, rather than leaving this decision to local authorities
- protect your estate from those you don’t wish to inherit, e.g., estranged spouses or relatives
- make provision for your pets
- help to protect your family home from the possibility of being sold to pay for long-term care home fees in the future
- place certain assets into Trusts, to protect your hard-earned assets from the 5 most common threats to your estate
- potentially reduce (or even eliminate) your inheritance tax bill with the appropriate planning
- specify your funeral wishes
- incorporate donations to charity
Ultimately, as well as giving you peace of mind, a well-written Will can provide long-term security for the people you love, and will ensure your assets go to the right people, at the right time, in the right proportions.
Having a professional Will drawn up is such a quick and simple process, there really is no reason to put it off. As the saying goes, don’t leave it until it’s too late…!
- Some or all of your estate could end up going to the State
- The Laws of Intestacy will apply, irrespective of your wishes, so you effectively have no say as to who inherits your estate
- You may end up having to sell your family home in the future to pay for care home costs, which could very quickly wipe out the value of your hard-earned assets
- If you are separated, but not officially divorced from your spouse/civil partner, your ex could end up inheriting your entire estate, even if you have children
- If you have children from a previous relationship, they could end up receiving nothing from your estate
- If you are cohabiting, your partner could end up with nothing. Worse still, they could end up being evicted from the family home.
- If you have a vulnerable child, their inheritance could be put at risk and they could face an uncertain future if no provisions have been made for them
- If your spouse/civil partner remarries after your death, your children may end up being disinherited
- Your entire estate could end up being used to pay off debts if one of your beneficiaries becomes bankrupt or runs into financial difficulties
- If deemed unfair, the distribution of your estate could lead to family disputes and cause unnecessary upset for those who have not been provided for
Having a Will professionally drafted will not only protect you from these risks, but your family will also thank you for it. The loss of a loved-one is hard enough to cope with for anybody, but the added responsibility of having to deal with an intestate estate can be very distressing for all involved. This burden on your family can be easily avoided by writing your Will.
As Sarah reports: “A relative of mine died suddenly a couple of years ago – she was very financially astute, so the family assumed she would have a Will in place, but unfortunately it transpired that her Will hadn’t been signed, so it was invalid. As a result, her wishes in the Will had to be disregarded and the estate was distributed according to the Laws of Intestacy. This meant that some beneficiaries named in her Will received nothing, whilst others who had not been named received substantial sums. To make matters worse, the estate had to pay a large inheritance tax bill which could largely have been avoided had the Will been valid.”
Once you have made your Will, the next step is to make sure it is kept safe and secure. If anything happens to your Will, or if your Executor doesn’t know where to find it, you may as well not have written one.
Storing your Will at home is not a sensible option – your Will could be stolen, damaged in a flood or fire, or simply mislaid (if you move house for instance). It also means that your Will probably hasn’t been recorded on the National Will Register, a UK wide Wills database used by professionals and the public alike to register and search for Wills.
Fortunately, Estuary Wills has partnered with New Leaf Will Writers Federation to provide secure lifetime storage for your Will and other documents. This professional service is provided for a one-off fee of £15 per person to clients who have had their Wills written by Estuary Wills Ltd.
Our comprehensive Will storage service includes the following benefits:
- Registration of your Will onto the National Will Register (usual cost £30), ensuring your Will can be traced quickly and easily at any time
- Safe storage of your documents in a fully insured professional facility
- Provision of a Will storage certificate, allowing you to retrieve your Will at any time
- Guaranteed protection against flooding, water damage, fire and smoke