You may be one of the millions of UK adults who don’t have a valid will in place. Research in 2021 estimated that fewer than 4 in 10 UK adults have one.
The people who arguably most need a will can often be the ones with the busiest lives – young families. So it’s understandable that many younger parents simply haven’t got round to getting advice on wills. With the right advice though, it needn’t be difficult to get a suitable will in place.
Here are some of the main reasons we feel that you should make the time to get advice on wills.
(1) Save your loved ones time and hassle in dealing with your assets
Life could be difficult and stressful enough for your bereaved family or loved ones and a valid will makes it quicker and easier to distribute your assets and avoid any disputes. While there are intestacy rules to determine what happens to your assets if you die without a will, the presence of a will can speed up the probate process. The probate process can also be cheaper, if a valid will is in place.
(2) Wills are about more than just your money and assets
Other things you can address in a will include nominating guardians for your children, letting your loved ones know your funeral wishes, or leaving personal messages for people. Nowadays you may wish to leave your login details for your ‘digital assets’ such as your smartphone, social media accounts or online photos. Without these, family photos stored online may be lost forever. A modern-day will can take care of such practicalities to ensure that precious memories aren’t lost.
(3) Minimising the tax your loved ones pay
Depending on the assets you have, there may be ways to make your will more efficient in terms of inheritance tax. Like any form of tax, this can be a complex area so professional legal advice can be beneficial, especially for larger estates. For many people, their largest asset – their house – will have risen in value in recent years, which could put the value of their estates above the threshold at which inheritance tax is payable.
(4) Your beneficiaries could lose state benefits
If any of your beneficiaries are on state benefits for illness or disabilities, these could be affected by a large inheritance. By receiving a large lump sum through your will, they may fail means testing and be unable to receive benefits. However, with the right advice you can prevent this by creating a trust, to release money to them more gradually over their lifetime.
(5) Your wishes may not be as simple as you think
Many people think a will is not necessary if they have a relatively small number of assets and a small family. However, if you’re married or cohabiting with a second partner following a divorce or if you have children or grandchildren you’d like to leave money to when they reach 18, these are areas you may need legal advice on. For example, you may own your house but cohabit with a new partner and want to allow them to live in your house after your death. A properly written will could allow your partner to do so rent-free until their death, at which point your children would inherit your house. Also, if you wish to leave assets to children currently under the age of 18, you can appoint trustees to look after the assets until they’re legally old enough to receive them.
(6) Avoiding ‘Sideways Disinheritance’
Another aspect of marrying for a second time, is that if you have children from your first marriage, they are at risk of missing out on inheriting your assets. If you were to pass away without a will, the intestacy laws could mean that your assets pass to your new spouse instead of your children. With the right advice, you can find the best way of helping ensure that your children don’t miss out on an inheritance in this way.
(7) You could unwittingly leave money and assets to your child’s estranged spouse
If you have grown-up children going through a divorce, there is always a risk that you could pass away before their divorce is concluded. This would mean that the inheritance is added to their marital assets, leaving their spouse possibly able to claim a share of it as part of the divorce settlement. To avoid this, you can create a trust, to ensure that your child would instead receive their inheritance at a future date, after the conclusion of their divorce.
(8) The unexpected can happen at any time
Very few people are comfortable contemplating their own death and they expect to only have to plan for it in later life. Thankfully that is true for most people, but nobody really knows when the worst could happen. If you intend to have a will at some point anyway, there is no good reason not to arrange one now, especially once you have dependents.
(9) Amending your will is not as difficult as many people believe
If you’ve not made a will because of upcoming changes in your circumstances, by speaking to a professional will writer they will look at your family dynamics and the best possible will to cover your current and future needs. For example, if you’re about to move house or are expecting a new addition to the family, such as a child or a grandchild, most wills are written to accommodate your growing family. This is done by not specifically naming your children or grandchildren but instead referring to them as a ‘class’ of people, such as ‘my children living at the date of my death’. So you have the peace of mind that as your family grows the new additions are included automatically. Similarly, your house can be described as ‘my principal private residence at the date of my death’. You can typically move house without needing to amend your will. Wills are not etched in stone they can be updated at any point as long as you have mental capacity to do so.
As these points demonstrate, there are many good reasons to make a will. If you’re one of the many UK adults without a will and would like some free initial advice to explain your options, call us on 03300 562181 or contact us through the website. We’ll arrange a time to talk in more detail and explain everything you need to do to get a will in place.