Why do I need a Will?
What are the risks of not having a Will?
You might be asking yourself this very question. The vast majority of people put off making a Will for a variety of reasons. Either believing that the people they would wish to inherit will automatically do so, or because they don’t think it is relevant to them at this particular time.
The reality is that you can put off making a Will until it is too late. This poses all sorts of problems for your family and people left behind. It could mean that some or all of your inheritance either goes to the wrong person or to the state.
Firstly and most importantly, is the peace of mind and security that making a Will can provide. Making a Will enables you to plan exactly what will happen to your property and belongings (estate) following your demise. This ensures that those you would like to benefit actually do so, in accordance with your wishes. At the same time avoiding any possible disputes between family or relatives.
What are the risks of not having a Will?
– You cannot be sure that those you would wish to benefit will actually do so
– Your spouse or civil partner may not automatically inherit ALL of your estate
– ‘Common Law’ partners will not receive anything
– Minor children would be taken into care whilst Guardians are appointed
– There could be lengthy delays for your Beneficiaries
– It may cause family disputes
Everyone over the age of 18 should make a Will
In particular, anyone with dependent relatives (children under the age of 18, elderly relatives or relatives with a disability who have special needs). Also, anyone who owns property or has any type of asset which you would wish relatives, friends or charities to benefit from.
A common misconception is that your husband/wife/civil partner/children/parents will automatically inherit. This is dependent on the size of your estate. There are set rules which will be applied to determine who inherits and how much if you do not make a Will.
This is called having died Intestate. There are specific rules of intestacy which set out who will inherit and how much, if you don’t leave a valid Will. This may not be what you would have wished and in the worst case scenarios where relatives cannot be traced, your assets will be taken by the Crown.
Anyone over the age of 18 who is of sound mind, can make a Will. However, it is possible for members of the armed forces to make a Will under the age of 18 (advice should be sought in these circumstances).
Also, under the provisions of the Mental Health Act 1983, the Court of Protection may approve the making of a Will, or a Codicil to a Will, for someone who is mentally incapable of doing so themselves. Guidance on how a mentally incapable person can make a Will can be obtained by clicking here.
Making a Will is not difficult
You need to make a list of your property and assets and consider who you wish to benefit from your estate, ensuring provision has been made for dependent relatives. You should also consider who you would want to look after your children (Guardians) if they were still young.
For a Will to be valid it should be in writing. Appoint someone to carry out the instructions of the Will (an Executor) and dispose of possessions and property. The Will must be signed by the person making the Will (The Testator), or signed on the Testator’s behalf in his or her presence and by his/her direction. This must be done in the presence of two witnesses who must sign the Will in the presence of the Testator.
Lots of people shy away from discussing their funeral arrangements with family and friends. So making a Will is a good way of letting people know whether you wish to be buried or cremated and any specific requests you might have for your funeral service.
However, it should be noted that your Executors are under no obligation whatsoever to carry out funeral wishes requested in your Will.
One way to guarantee that your wishes are met is to set up a Guaranteed Funeral Plan. You can include details of this planning in your Will. If you want to discuss a Guaranteed Funeral Plan for yourself contact us for a no obligation chat.
We hope this has helped to answer “Why do I need a Will”, and given you some insight into the process. Please contact us if you need any further help or advice.
Who can witness my will:
- Anyone who is not blind
- Is capable of understanding the nature and effect of what they are doing
- Is aged 18 or over
A witness should NOT be:
- A Beneficiary in the Will
- Be married to or be the civil partner of a Beneficiary. In these circumstances the Will would remain valid and a legal document, but the gift to the Beneficiary cannot be paid