It’s been on your to-do list for ages but you keep shifting it to the bottom of the pile… You tell yourself you’ll do it soon, honest. You’ve got too much on at the moment. You’ve got more exciting things to spend your money on and it’ll take too long to sort out. You don’t know which solicitor to choose. Your affairs aren’t that complicated – surely it’s not that important? Or maybe your affairs are complicated and you can’t bear the thought of digging out all the relevant paperwork. Whatever your excuse, it’s really high time you stopped moaning and wrote your Will.
Without an up-to-date Will, your loved ones may be left with a complicated, uncertain and highly stressful situation when faced with administering your affairs. Assuming that your assets will be automatically passed on to the appropriate people is a dangerous kind of complacency and can lead to financial hardship and disputes that may last for years after you’re gone.
A staggering 61% of UK adults claim not to have a valid Will, but even if your circumstances are straightforward there are still many minor issues that may complicate your plans for the future and the division of your assets if you die without setting your affairs in order. Here are just a few of the ways a Will can protect your loved ones and your estate:
- On a basic level, a Will helps to simplify arrangements after your death, such as funeral costs and logistics. Working with a solicitor who already has all the necessary information will help to take the weight off your family’s shoulders.
- Making a Will with an experienced solicitor will also help reduce the amount of inheritance tax your loved ones have to pay on property, investments and assets.
- If you have children or grandchildren and wish them to be provided for after you’re gone, the specifics of your wishes need to be set down in a Will, particularly when it comes to step-children, who do not automatically inherit under intestacy laws.
- If you are unmarried but living with your partner as a cohabitant, it’s vital that you both draw up a Will to ensure that your assets are protected as a couple. Under current rulings, cohabitants are not automatically entitled to each other’s estate unless named in a Will.
- If you own property jointly or individually, you must have a Will in order to dictate who will inherit this asset, especially if you intend for it to continue as a family home.
- If you are currently going through a separation or are planning on living separately for an extended period to simplify the divorce process, it’s a very good idea to update or draw up a new Will to reflect your change in circumstances.
- If you’d like a portion of your estate to go to charity after your death, this must also be specified in your Will. Don’t assume that any verbal or written agreements outside of a solicitor’s office will be valid.
As a general rule, whenever you go through a major life change or milestone – for example: getting married, moving in with a partner, having a child, adopting a child, assuming responsibility for a step-child, buying or selling property, starting or closing a business, separating or getting divorced, or inheriting new assets – you will need to update your Will accordingly.
So why are you putting it off? If you’re worried about the time, expense and organisation required, put those preconceptions to bed. Making a will needn’t be expensive, and can be drawn up quickly and with little fuss providing you have all the relevant paperwork to hand. And surely an hour of sifting through your filing cabinet is well worth the peace of mind of having an up-to-date Will that will protect your family and your assets?
And in case you’re tempted by the various DIY and ‘quickie’ options available on the high street and online, it’s worth noting that these solutions will never be as comprehensive as a Will written by an experienced solicitor. By cutting corners with a do-it-yourself or online Will you run the risk of ending up with an invalid Will full of loopholes and errors that may cost you and your family a lot more – in both money and stress – in the long run. Working with a solicitor means you have access to the advice and assistance of a professional who will be on hand to deal with any amendments or disputes down the road, as well as supporting your family in handling all aspects of administration after you’re gone.
For more information and advice on Wills and Probate, or to book an appointment with our friendly, experienced team in the Thames Valley, visit www.franceslindsay.co.uk.Tags: family law solicitor Thames Valley, making a will, wills and probate