Creating a will is something we all need to think about at some point in our lives. However unpleasant the idea of passing on might be, knowing that your loved ones will be cared for after you have gone is a comforting thought. Many people may not realise the wide range of legal matters for which a will is needed however. When preparing for the future, it is best to understand how and why a will is needed.
The predominant reason for making a will is to dictate how your assets, property and possessions will be distributed when you die. The vast majority of people will leave their assets to immediate family members, although more distant relatives, friends and even organisations can also become the beneficiaries.
If a will is not created or not drawn up properly (i.e. written down in the presence of two witnesses, with an appointed executor the carry out the instructions) then the government will decide on what happens to your assets for you. Referred to as intestacy, this can cause a lot of distress to your family if they are not looked after. In this sense, preparing for your future by making a will becomes crucial.
In some cases of intestacy, funds may be passed onto a family member who you do not wish to receive anything. For example, a lifetime unmarried partner will usually receive nothing if there are children involved. Counter claims and court action between the surviving family members is sometimes the result of this action, a situation you should not want to leave behind.
There are quite a few intestacy repercussions which you must consider if you don’t make a will, especially if you are not married or have no surviving family members. If you wish to pass on money or assets to your children who are not of suitable age you can employ a guardian to look after it on their behalf or even invest it in trusts schemes, stocks, etc until they reach adulthood.
Another useful reason for making a will is to do with inheritance tax. Changes to the law in October 2007 have meant that, if your whole estate is worth over £325,000, then a rate of 40% will be owed to the government. However, married couples and civil partners are allowed to pass on possessions to each other tax-free – in this respect, getting a will sorted before you die can save your partner these excess costs in the future.
There are many types of will which you can draw up depending on your circumstances. It is highly recommended to visit a professional law firm who specialise in will writing and guide you through the process. Drawing up a will yourself is an option but often not advisable; if an intricate detail is missed then it can sometimes be very tricky to change at a later date.
When it comes to preparing for the future, think carefully what you wish to happen to your possessions after you have gone and who they should be designated to. Employ the services of an experience solicitor to help you draw up the will so that your wishes are carried out as you intend.