We all know we should have a valid Will, but often do not understand why.....
Making a Will is the only way to ensure your wishes are carried out after your death by those you trust (your Executors). If you have not made a valid Will, your property and other assets will pass according to the Law of Intestacy, which may not be what you would have wished. In any event it is likely to take much longer to finalise than if you had made a Will, and while things are being sorted out your beneficiaries may not be able to draw any money from your estate, which can result in arguments and distress for family and other relatives.
If you are a parent - It is vital you consider who would look after your children in the event of your death. If you die without nominating a guardian and your children are orphaned, they will most likely be placed in the care of Social Services, leaving the courts to decide on the most suitable person to provide care for your children. This is important in all cases where there are children, and especially so for one parent families or unmarried parents living together.
If no one knows what you would have wanted, the courts will decide on the future of your children, and it may not be what you or your children would have wished.
If you are single - You will want your estate divided amongst your relatives, friends and possibly Charities of your choosing and in the proportions you want. Having a simple Will can ensure this is done without any undue confusion or delay.
If you are married or in a civil partnership - You should not assume your spouse or partner will automatically inherit everything. Brothers and sisters or parents may have a claim, and often your children have a right to part of your estate. If you are living as a couple but not officially married, you may be treated as a single person and a surviving partner may get nothing at all. One thing you can be certain of - there will be argument and dispute at a time when the family should be coping with the loss of a loved one.
There may also be important estate planning reasons why assets should not pass directly to your spouse. The possibility of residential property being taken by Social Services to fund long term care costs is a major issue for many, and a well structured Will can help provide protection for the family home and other assets. A discussion with a consultant about these issues may prove invaluable.
If you are retired - You may have made a Will some time ago, when your priorities and assets were very different. There may well be a need now to review your instructions, and factor in changes in legislation to areas such as inheritance tax and long term care funding which may have occurred since your last Will review.
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