The pandemic has seen a sharp spike in the number of people making a will, with a close correlation between news events and future planning. Before the global Covid crisis it was reported that around two thirds of British adults did not have an up-to-date will, so while we’d rather the circumstances were different, it is encouraging that more people are taking their future planning more seriously and protecting themselves and their family should the worst happen.
Online and telephone will making services reported an increase in enquiries of over 200% in 2020, particularly by people under the age of 35, with a 300% rise in will-writing by millennials and gen-Zs.
The most popular date for making a will was 6th of April – the day Boris Johnson went into intensive care while suffering from coronavirus – but since the first vaccine was approved, there has been a significant drop-off in enquiries for will writing.
Global crisis notwithstanding, it’s important to consider end of life planning and ‘future proofing’ – at any age, situation, in sickness or in health – because none of us know what’s around the corner, or what the future holds, and the only thing we can do is prepare as best we can to protect ourselves and our family.
Writing a will allows you to decide what happens to your possessions, assets, property and finances after you’re gone, as well as how any dependents will be looked after, how you’d like your funeral to be handled, and who you choose to manage your affairs.
Having a will is the only guaranteed way to ensure that your loved ones inherit what you intend them to. It can also help to figure out how to minimise inheritance tax on your estate and ensure that your loved ones receive as much as possible in the most tax-efficient manner.
Without a will, probate and inheritance issues can be complicated, stressful, and costly, and often results in protracted arguments and a mountain of admin that could have easily be avoided if you’d just set down your wishes clearly in a will. If you die without a will, your estate will be divided up according to the rules of intestacy which are a set of arbitrary laws that detail who will receive what. However, this may not follow your intended wishes, especially if you’d like to leave assets or possessions to people outside your immediate family, including unmarried partners, step-children and friends. For this reason, having a will is vital for cohabiting couples, particularly if they have children.
Making a will can be very simple to do, but it’s best to get the advice and guidance of a professional solicitor to make sure you have included absolutely every possibility and asset. DIY and online will making options may seem like a quick fix but they are much more at risk of containing errors, or fail to include vital details or aspects of your estate that will lead to complications later on. A solicitor will consider your circumstances in detail and help you to create a tailored will that takes into account your individual wishes and your intentions for inheritance.
And while you’re there, it’s worth drawing up lasting powers of attorney, too… You’ve taken the time to consider how you’d like your estate handled after you’re gone, but what if you found yourself unable to manage your affairs at some point in the future? Illness, injury, disability, or dementia could all affect your ability to make decisions about your finances, property, care and wellbeing. Lasting powers of attorney – sometimes called a ‘living will’ – fills this gap and allows you to set down your wishes and plans for what would happen if you needed an executor to take over the management of your affairs. In much the same way, it is a reassuring way of protecting your future by giving you control of what happens to you and your estate should you need it. Of course, the hope is that you will never need to use them, but they could end up being some of the most important documents you own.
Death is never going to be an easy subject to think about, but perhaps the events of 2020 and beyond have given us the time and opportunity to reflect on our mortality and the things that are most important to us.
If you don’t have a will or lasting powers of attorney, or need to update your existing documentation, get in touch and speak to one of our experienced solicitors who can talk you through the process and make sure you have everything you need for your unique circumstances. Don’t wait until there’s a crisis to plan for your future – let us take the weight off your shoulders and protect your future right now.Tags: will making, will writing, will writing lawyer, will writing solicitor