We actively encourage all of our clients to make a Will or update their existing Will, especially as three in five people still do not currently have one.
The importance of protecting your estate and ensuring that your assets pass on to your intended beneficiaries, in the most tax efficient manner, cannot be stressed enough. Below are a few key issues to consider:-
- If you do not have a Will, the Rules of Intestacy shall take effect on your death. This means that your relatives are divided into classes (your spouse, your children, your siblings etc.) in order of priority and, once a person has been identified in a class, then all individuals in lower classes are excluded from inheriting. Further, and contrary to popular belief, your estate will not necessarily all pass automatically to your surviving spouse. Therefore, it’s wise to have a Will put in place to ensure that only those who you wish to benefit from your estate, do so.
- Your Will should reflect your wishes. It really is that simple and having control over your wishes is not to be underestimated. You should be able to freely choose who is to benefit from your estate and to what they should be entitled. You can decide who oversees administering your estate (an Executor) and include any specific funeral wishes you may have.
- Where someone has children from a previous relationship, the use of a Trust protects the property as an asset for those children, whilst allowing their current partner to reside in the property (a Life Interest Trust). Without a Will, the Rules of Intestacy and Rules of Survivorship for co-owned property may mean that all marital assets pass to the current partner whilst the children do not receive anything. Similarly, a Discretionary Trust is a useful tool to allow someone to manage the inheritance left to a vulnerable beneficiary.
- Having a professional prepare your Will reduces the risk of disputes arising in the future. A solicitor can ensure that a Will accurately reflects your wishes and, more importantly, is executed properly. It is advisable to be cautious when instructing unregulated Will practitioners or when writing your own Will, as quite often key issues are not addressed. If there is an issue with a poorly drafted Will, this can often have a knock-on effect when dealing with Probate and cause unnecessary stress for your loved ones.
- A Will also allows you to appoint Guardians for your minor children should something happen to both parents.
If you would like to discuss any Will related matters with one of our solicitors, please call our office on 0207 431 1912 or email Karen O’Brien – email@example.com