Protect your legacy by ensuring you have a will in place
Death is something that none of us like to think or perhaps even talk about, yet it is essential you plan ahead to ensure your family receive what you intend for them once you have passed away.
I say this purely because I recently read that 29.3 million people – a near 66% of the UK adult population – have no will in place.
Alarmingly a near 70% of those aged in their 40s also do not have a written will, this number decreases only slightly to just over half of those aged in their 50s. Even though most have young families they need to be thinking of.
Over 75% of UK adults plan on leaving money to their loved ones and family members when they pass away. Whilst nearly 1 in 10 of those without a will, believe their estate will automatically go to the right people when they die. Let me tell you, that this is not the case.
As without a will, you cannot guarantee that your assets will be passed on as you wish. Your legacy will be divided according to the rules of intestacy.
What happens if you die without having a will?
If you die without a will, your assets will be divided up under rules laid down by the Government.
This depends on how much you own, family structure and how your assets are held.
The only way to ensure that the right people you want to inherit do inherit your inheritance is by making a will. As without a will, the law will dictate who inherits the deceased’s estate, how and when. And this is not always in line with how the deceased may wish it to be.
2 common misconceptions about intestacy rules are:
When a spouse dies, the surviving spouse automatically inherits the entire estate. This is not definite if the value of the estate exceeds £250,000 and there are children. Or if the estate exceeds £450,000 and there are no children, but there are surviving brothers and sisters in the family.
Additionally, the other misconception is in relation to unmarried cohabiting partners.
English law does not recognise this relationship and the intestacy rules only provide for the spouse or civil partner and blood relatives. So because of this the other partner will not automatically receive anything from the will.
To ensure your estate is looked after by those you trust and distributed accordingly is it essential that you make a will. As dying without having a will may have un-desireable consequences and mean that your loved ones will only benefit from some of your assets.
Do I need to use a Legal professional? Well I would.
In order to save money it might be tempting to cut costs by using an online “DIY” will website. However, for reason of repercussions should you make a mistake, you need to tread very carefully.
I am fully aware that there are strict legal formalities for making and signing a will, but for as long as these are observed then you can put in place a valid will without using a solicitor.
However, many of these DIY wills fail to deal with the entire estate, and this could lead to some assets being distributed under the intestacy rules. And this sometimes means that your loved ones and family members may end up having to go to court.
These court proceedings can mean additional expense and delay whilst your loved ones try to deal with and resolve the situation. And this can be extremely hard to achieve if the relevant parties cannot agree on the right course of action.
In my humble opinion using a DIY will brings risk that things could be done incorrectly and for the sake of saving only a little bit of money. So using a professional will give you peace of mind that the will is legal and valid.
A solicitor will also advise you on inheritance tax, whether the tax can be reduced or even avoided. And of course more importantly, how to safeguard the future care of your children.
Shortly the Law Society will introduce the Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme (WIQS).
The reason for this is to provide some confidence and a kitemark seal of approval for quality advice on will drafting and estate administration. And reassures consumers that they are using a regulated solicitor specifically endorsed in the area of wills.
For more information on this, please click on:
The Law Society www.lawsociety.org.uk
Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners www.step.org
Why and when should I write a will?
Many people have the opinion that you should write a will one you are older, but I suggest that you should consider doing this at an earliest stage as possible as you never know your need for a will. For example, if you have assets such as Shares or Property then you should definitely get yourself a will. Additionally, once you have drawn up your will, you must then review it ongoing, just in case there are changes needed. As your personal and financial circumstances can change and also so it still reflects your wishes upon your death
Marriage or divorce can mean that your existing will is invalid and needs changing.
Costs could be less than you think
The average cost of using a solicitor to draw up a will can be as low as £150 for a single person and £200 for a couple.
Equally, November is Will Aid month, when many solicitors will not charge you for writing a basic will, but will invite you to make a donation to 1 of 9 charities instead. According to their website the suggested minimum donation is £90.00 for a single will and £135.00 for a joint/pair of mirror wills. For more information on this, please click on: www.willaid.org.uk.
FreeWillsMonth.org.uk is a similar scheme running until the end of October.
In my opinion, using a solicitor is best for peace of mind and additional security
There are also specialist will-writing firms that claim to offer the service. However my reading suggests that these will writers do not have the same experience, training or qualifications as solicitors do. You do not have to be regulated to write wills. Indeed, anyone can set up a business and start writing wills. So as will writers do not have formal training. This could mean your estate becomes subject to the laws of intestacy.
Solicitors also have adequate professional indemnity insurance, which is an important protection for your beneficiaries.