Last updated on May 10th, 2017 at 07:54 am
Dying Matters is an organisation that promotes public awareness of dying, death and bereavement.
Of course, dying is something we tend not to want to think about – let alone talk about it. But we must – especially if we want to be sure that when we die, our estate will go to the people we want it to go to. So we really need to decide who we want to inherit what – and the only way to do that is to make a will. It’s probably the most important financial decision you will make in your lifetime.
According to The Money Advice Service the Government earned £8 million last year from unclaimed estates – and that is because if you don’t make a will, your estate will be distributed according to strict intestacy rules – and if you have no kin who are entitled to inherit – your assets will go to the Government. So – let’s discuss why you should make a will now.
Make sure your wishes are taken care of
You will want your loved ones to benefit from your hard work during your lifetime. You are very likely to want to leave specific items to individuals, or keep family heirlooms or assets within the family. Without a will, assets may have to be sold to create money that can be distributed amongst many beneficiaries.
You can also make decisions about your funeral so your loved ones will know what arrangements you want to be made.
You can decide who administers your estate by choosing your executors.
Help your family and friends deal with their bereavement
Dealing with the deceased’s estate is difficult enough, but at a time when your loved ones will be grieving, the extra pressure of having to deal with your property, money and other assets, if you haven’t left your instructions, will certainly add to the trauma. It can take a very long time to sort out the estate of someone who dies intestate – and can be very costly.
Marriage, separation, co-habitation & blended families
If you get married or enter into a civil partnership you will need to make a new will as any previous will is automatically revoked (unless there is a clause in it that indicates the will should still be valid in this event).
If you get divorced or dissolve a civil partnership and you want your ex-spouse or civil partner to inherit anything, you will need to write a new will.
If you are not married and want your partner to inherit, you will need to write a will as they are not treated in the same way as spouses or civil partners – despite the myth of common law marriage.
You may want to nominate guardians for your children if they are under 18. If you don’t have a will you don’t have control over who will look after your children if you die. You may also need to set up trusts and trustees so that your estate can be properly managed for your children in the event of your death.
If you have a complex family structure that includes children from more than one partnership, you will want to make sure that they inherit as you would wish.
Avoid disputes between family and friends
There is no doubt about your wishes if you leave a will so disputes are far less likely. Such disputes can tear families apart, creating huge rifts and long lasting animosity
Minimise inheritance tax
For example, if you leave all of your estate to your spouse or civil partner there will be no inheritance tax to pay. You will also need to understand how gifts given in your lifetime can effect inheritance tax.
How to make a will
If your will is not properly drafted your executors could find that they are unable to distribute your estate as you wanted – for example if it’s not properly signed and witnessed or if there’s ambiguous information within it.
If you want to make sure that your will is legally binding and drafted to ensure that your estate is properly protected for those who you wish to benefit, contact our experts now. We will guide you through the process and make sure that your will enables your representative to distribute your estate exactly as you want when you die.
You can find out more about making a will and administering an estate on our web pages.