Category Archives: Wills

Making a will: why it’s not just for older people

You may have plans for your estate after you pass away, but unless you have a will, there is no guarantee your wishes will be adhered to.

Making a will is about more than just ensuring your assets are distributed the way you want after you’re gone – it’s also about providing for your loved ones and sparing them the stress and expense of having to settle your affairs.

It is also a process you should go through as soon as you experience any major life event or change – from buying any significant asset to getting married or entering into a civil partnership.

Why should you make a will?

A will is intended to detail your wishes for the distribution of your estate upon your death. It also sets out whose care you want to leave your children in. This is one of the main reasons making a will is important for younger people.

If you don’t have a legally valid will in place when you die, the law dictates what will happen to your assets. And this may not be what you want to happen. This is particularly relevant if you are in a relationship but not married or in a civil partnership, as your partner will not necessarily inherit anything.

Dying without a will is known as intestacy. Dying intestate means your family will not have any legal say in how your assets are distributed. For example, the law states that if you are married, your spouse will inherit most or all of your estate, leaving your children with nothing. This is true even if you are separated.

Meanwhile, if you do have children or grandchildren, the amount they are legally entitled to depends on where you live in the UK, with the rules in Scotland and Northern Ireland being different to those in England and Wales. Any Inheritance Tax that they may have to pay could be higher than if you had made a will before dying.

In addition, if you die without any close relatives still living, your whole estate could pass to the government.

So to ensure you can rest assured, knowing your family will be looked after in the way you want, making a legal will is the best decision.

When should you make a will?

You can make a will at any point in your life after turning 18. The importance of having a will in place will depend on your specific circumstances but is usually the right thing to do when it comes to providing for your family.

Consider your life situation. Are you married? Are you a parent? Do you have a positive net worth? If you answer yes to any of these questions, you should make a will.

It is also essential to update your will any time you reach a new milestone or your situation changes. If you buy a new property, have a child, receive a financial windfall or experience a change in your relationship status, you will need to update your will to reflect your different circumstances and revised wishes for the distribution of your estate.

There is also the possibility you are going to take part in a risky activity – whether that’s a form of extreme sports or visiting a dangerous part of the world. If you know you will be putting your life at risk in the near – or distant – future, you should ensure you have a valid will in place in case the very worst happens.

You may also have to update your will for a reason entirely unrelated to you. This could be down to your chosen executor. If they pass away before you do, move away or become otherwise unable to carry out this duty, you will have to revise your will and name someone else as your executor.

If a named beneficiary in your will passes away before you do, you will also have to update your will.

What to include in your will

As well as setting out who you want to appoint as guardian to your children and who you will leave your property and other physical and financial assets to, you can specify who will take ownership of your digital assets.

In today’s world, we tend to spend a great deal of our lives online. We have social media accounts, email accounts and online shopping accounts. We also have photographs, films and music stored online, which form part of your possessions.

You should therefore set out who you want to leave these items to. You should also request that a certain person or people take control of your online accounts. You should therefore leave passwords and other login details to your chosen executor.

However, don’t include any of this information in your will as others could then access it. Rather, keep these details in a separate document and provide instructions on how to find it.

You can also state your wishes for your funeral, as well as any care instructions for pets.

Although making a will may not be a thought you relish, doing so will ensure your wishes will be adhered to and your family will be looked after. Knowing a specialist wills solicitor has guided you through the process will also give you the confidence that everything is legally valid, making the situation less stressful for your loved ones.

Image copyright zimmytws on 123RF.

Why you should make sure your will is in order

Although creating a will can be a lengthy process, and it might be something that you have put to the back of your mind, it’s an important document and it is the only way to ensure your property, money and other assets are going to the right place once you have passed away. Not only does having a will in place for when you pass away leave you with the peace of mind, knowing that your assets are being taken care of, it can also save legal costs mounting up due to lengthy court proceedings, which in turn may create family feuds.

Complications can arise if there is no will in place, and if one does not surface there are certain legalities that will need to be taken into consideration; for example, did you know that if you are unmarried or in a relationship where you have not registered as a civil partnership you are not entitled to inherit anything from each other unless there is a will specifically stating so? And if you have children, a will becomes even more important as arrangements will need to be made for these to be financially dependent after you are gone.

Family feuds

Family fall outs surrounding wills are bound to happen, with certain people in the family thinking they deserve more than what they have been left, or someone being left out entirely. If a will is not in place, it is impossible for the family to know what your last wishes were for your assets, and whilst you may have verbally stated this to a family member you trust, this will not be legally binding and if there is likely to be family fallouts then it is bound to be contested.

When Prince passed away unexpectedly in May this year, a will did not surface causing reports of family feuds over who is getting what out of his estate. Due to the fact he has no spouse or children, his estate is most likely to be split equally among his siblings and half-siblings. For someone with a lot of property, business and wealth, not creating a will is now going to cause a long, expensive and complex legal process to divvy up the assets behind his million-dollar estate, further complications are expected when it comes to the valuation of certain artefacts, too; such as unpublished music.

Finding a solicitor

Whilst it is not a legal requirement that you use a solicitor to draw up, or witness your will. This is something that is only advised if the will is straightforward. A solicitor can help you understand the legal proceedings and formal requirements needed to make a will valid; mistakes are easily made, but involving a solicitor in the proceedings can cause misunderstandings and disputes, resulting in considerable legal costs which can reduce the amount of money in the estate.

It is also worth knowing that a will can be challenged in England and Wales under the 1975 Inheritance (provisions for family and dependents) Act if a person was financially dependent and this ceased, or was substantially reduced on death.

Inheritance Act Statement, this document is generally written at the same time as your will, and will outline the reasoning behind you laying out your will in such a way; this statement will come to fruition if the will is contested by someone who feels they are being unfairly treated by the will.

Article supplied by Vincent’s Solicitors

Wills: the facts and figures

The number of people writing wills has increased in recent years – with 48 percent of adult respondents to a survey saying they have written a will, which is good news.

The survey, carried out in 2014 by Lightspeed Research for the charity Will Aid, surveyed some 2,250 people aged 25 to 84 and from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Here are some further interesting findings from the research:

  • 48 percent of adults say they have written a will (an increase of 4 percent and the highest percentage of people saying they have written a will since the survey was first run in 2006.
  • The greatest increase in percentages of people writing a will in the younger age group (aged 25-34) where the percentage has doubled, up from 11.6 percent in 2013.
  • But it is only in the over-55 age group where a significant majority has made a will.
  • In terms of geography, Northern Ireland still has the lowest percentage of people with a will and the south and east of England has the highest percentage of people with wills.
  • 55 percent of people who are married or in a civil partnership have written a will, while the number of separated people with wills has increased (48 percent, compared to 41.3 percent the year before).
  • Worryingly though, 56 percent of parents do not have a will at all and a further 23 percent have a will but have not named guardians – which means that 79 percent of parents with dependent children haven’t named guardians for them.
  • For the people in the survey who did have a will – 68 percent chose a solicitor to write their will, 12 percent used a will writer, 6 percent used a DIY will kit and 6 percent a home-made will.
  • More than 25 percent made their first will between the ages of 30 and 39 years, 18 percent when they were between 20 and 29 and 13 percent made their first will when they were over the age of 60.
  • Motivation for making or updating a will varied according to age – for those aged between 25 and 44 they wanted to provide for their loved ones, respondents aged between 45 and 64 were reacting to changes in family circumstances such as births, deaths, divorces etc. and the older age group wanted to ensure their affairs were in order.
  • But of people who had written a will, almost 60 percent of those hadn’t written a new will or updated an old one for more than five years and 21 percent hadn’t checked their will still reflected their wishes in more than ten years.

Leaving a will and ensuring it reflects your current wishes and family circumstances is very important. The family of Rik Mayall can certainly testify to that, as sadly the comedian did not leave a will which means his family could face inheritance tax charges of thousands on his £1.2 million estate.

Age is no barrier to accident and illness, so as an adult you are never too young to write a will, and unfortunately dying intestate is all too common – of the 50 million adults living in the UK, 26 million (52 percent) have not written a will.

Here at Finders International, it’s our job to find rightful next of kin to an intestacy (when unknown or unconfirmed) or the heirs to a Will where the information stated is out of date and has failed to identify or locate the correct beneficiaries.