Planning your Will is a daunting experience for most, which is why most people tend to avoid it for as long as possible. Few remember the importance of planning your own Will, meaning that Wills often land in the hands of a loved one when someone passes. This can cause not only stress but can also be psychologically damaging towards the trustee of the Will.
People often forget who it could potentially effect if their Will is not sorted. Family, Friends and even employees can be affected, which is why it’s vital that completing your Will should be top on your agenda.
There are lots of benefits in setting up and maintaining a Will. You just need to have the time and commitment to follow it through.
Benefits of a Will
1. You choose where your assets go
The main benefit of having a Will is that you are in control of who receives your personal belongings. These for example could be your car, a painting or even a family heirloom. A Will ensures and guarantees that these possessions go to the right person and retained within your family (if this is what you wish to do).
2. Unmarried couples
Another advantage of having a Will is that if you are in an unmarried relationship, then you can ensure that your partner is provided for. If you do not set up a Will regarding your partner, then they are most likely to face problems when you pass. The laws of intestacy do not take into consideration a cohabitant, meaning that it can lead to financial difficulties for them. They would have to raise a court action, costing them not only a hefty price but time as well.
Similarly, this works the same for couples who have separated but not yet divorced. Your spouse or civil partner may still be able to make a claim on your estate if the divorce hasn’t been finalised.
3. Inheritance tax
Inheritance tax is the tax that is payable on your estate when you die. By making a Will you can make sure that you are not paying more inheritance tax than you need to. The decision on whether or not inheritance tax is payable depends on current inheritance tax threshold, any gifts you have given in the past 7 years and whether or not your spouse or civil partner is inheriting all or part of your estate.
4. Easier for loved ones
No one enjoys going through the death of a loved one and for some people, to top it off, they then have to individually go through their loved ones personal belongings to figure out who gets what. This can of course be very traumatic for some as it can act as a constant reminder that that person has gone.
It also can end up being very expensive trying to sort out someone’s Will and can also take up to a long time.
Who do they affect?
Many people do not think about whom their Will could potentially affect. Planning ahead for the next generation is what setting up a Will is all about; so ensuring that you consider every part of your life is key into making sure that no one is effected dramatically after you pass.
Your family is in most cases everyone’s top priority when it comes to figuring out their Will. Without providing a clear instructed Will regarding your family, arguments are often inevitable. This is simply because everyone has different opinions on where your estate ends up. It’s also important to think about your pets. If you have someone in mind to look after them, then be sure to mention this, including a cash gift to them providing for the cost of the maintenance of the pet.
With only 47% of adults having a Will in the UK, many die unheard. The law dictates to whom your estate goes to if you do not have a Will. If you have no living relatives, everything you once owned will go to the treasury. This is instead of all the close friends or favorite charities that you would have preferred. When it comes to your friends, ensure that you include them within your Will if you wish for them to receive part of your estate.
Furthermore, employees are another aspect of your life that could be affected if your Will is not taken care of. Often business owners are too busy to finalise their successions and the process is cut off. The need to arrange your Will around your business is vital. It ensures the safety of your business for the future and the security of your employees.
How you would go around setting one up
You are able to write your Will yourself but accepting legal advice is often pushed forward. You will then need to get your Will formally witnessed and signed. This will then make it legally valid. You are also able to update and change your Will if necessary; this is called a ‘codicil’. You would either need to do this or make a new Will if alterations are needed.
There is one simple point to take from this article. If you die without a Will, the law says who gets what.
There are many specialised experts to help you with your Will, you just need to sit down and carefully think it through. As I am sure you would rather decide now rather then when it’s too late.
About the Author:
Whitehead Monckton are a leading Kent Law firm that get involved in advising individuals about their Wills, providing friendly and legal advice to clients. If you would like Whitehead Monckton to help you organise your succession planning or would like to request a call back then please visit the Whitehead Monckton website to find out further information.