Reasons you need to make a will
Making a will doesn’t mean you are going to die! A large number of adults have not made valid wills when they really should do. Shelley McCarthy shares a few reasons why you should.
A survey by Macmillian Cancer Support revealed that nearly two thirds of adults in the UK have not made a will. The percentage of people with wills does rise slightly with age, so among over 55s, 42% don’t have a will.
There are likely to be a number of reasons for this and speaking to clients I have come across the following groups of people:
1. Those who feel that the intestacy rules are sufficient
2. Those who worry that the act of making a will will make something ‘bad’ happen
3. Those who are worried about the cost
4. Those who have invalidated their wills by marrying, for example
5. Those who are procrastinating
6. Those who are unsure to whom they should leave their estate
However, we recommend that you make a will or ensure any will that you have made is still appropriate and reflects your wishes. There are a number of reasons for this:
1. The Laws of Intestacy won’t necessarily mean that your estate will be distributed in line with your wishes. For example, your spouse will not automatically inherit all of your estate and if not married or in a civil partnership, nothing will automatically pass to your partner.
2. It makes it easier for the people left behind to know that what they are doing is in-line with your wishes and to administer your estate. It can often mean that assets are distributed in a more timely fashion.
3. In addition to detailing how you would like your estate distributed, you can also specify the type of funeral you would like and other personal
details. This provides a great deal of reassurance to friends and family at what is often a very difficult time.
4. You can ensure that assets are distributed in a manner which will minimise your Inheritance Tax liability.
5. It helps avoid family disputes.
6. It gives you peace of mind and puts you in control.
Even if you have made a will, you should review on a regular basis to ensure that it is still appropriate. Any big life events should also mean a review of your will, because as detailed above, some events will invalidate a will, such as marriage.
Funnily enough, divorce does not automatically invalidate a will.
In addition to changes in your own life, changes in legislation and the world around us can also mean that your will should be reviewed.
For example, the Residence Nil Rate Band was introduced in April 2017 but will not apply to you if your main residence is not left to a direct descendant in your will.
Some wills which include certain trusts, that were entirely appropriate when made, may not now be appropriate and mean you won’t qualify for this additional nil rate band.
Another item that needs consideration are digital assets.
Again, in this day and age, many of us have online accounts and cloud storage. Some of you may have digital currency, such as bitcoin. These areas also require consideration on death and could be as simple as ensuring that someone is able to maintain access to your digital photographs and treasured memories.
If you have assets overseas you may will need more than one will to ensure that your assets are distributed in line with your wishes.
Ultimately, we recommend that you seek professional legal advice and ensure that you have a valid, up-to-date will, which reflects your wishes.
Although they can often be seen as ‘difficult’ conversations, talking about your will, finances and future plans with your family and friends is important. Perhaps making a ‘death box’ where you keep details of your accounts, copy wills and details of your solicitor and financial planner should be on everyone’s ‘to-do’ list.
These actions will provide peace of mind for both you and your family.
This article first appeared in the September 2018 edition of Informed magazine.