What is a Will?
As many of us know, a Will is an important legal document in which you express how you would like your property, cash and chattels to be distributed when you’re no longer around. It also makes provision for guardianship of minor children, allows you to appoint people you trust to administer your estate (manage the probate process) and can be used to mitigate tax.
There are lots of reasons why everyone ought to have a Will, and in this article, we’re going to explore some of the most common reasons people write their Wills.
Reasons to Make a Will
- Just purchased a house or home
This is often described as the most expensive purchase we will ever make and one that we should protect in the event of our death. If you’ve purchased a house, with or without a mortgage, you should write a Will to make sure that it will pass to the person or people you would want to inherit if you weren’t around. Never assume it will pass to your partner (if you’re unmarried). Seek legal advice to ensure that your wishes will be carried out.
- We have just had a baby
Firstly, congratulations! A little ray of sunshine always helps to put things into perspective and is a key reason that people decide to put a Will in place. They want to ensure that their child will be taken care of should something happen to them. In a Will, we are able to appoint Guardians to look after minor children. A common misconception is that Godparents can look after children, but without an appointment in a Will, it is likely the courts will appoint a guardian and this may not be who you would have chosen.
- Birth of a grandchild
A new little addition to the family is always exciting and often brings about the need for people to make changes to their Will. As a grandparent, you often want to provide equally for your grandchildren and if your Will isn’t written in such a way as to encompass all grandchildren then one might miss out.
- Death of a loved one
Many think of writing their Will as a morbid subject and one to be avoided but the loss of a loved one often makes us consider our own mortality. It’s a key reason people write their Will, often because the person who passed away didn’t have adequate protection in place and the family or friends have a challenge on their hands sorting the estate administration. Being prepared doesn’t just provide you with peace of mind, but it also removes the burden and stress from your family and loved ones.
- I don’t want to run the gauntlet of Intestacy
Intestacy is the name given to passing away without a valid Will in place. The Rules of Intestacy define what would happen to your estate if you passed away with a Will. Often this won’t be what you would want and professional advice is the one way to be certain that your loved ones are provided for.
- I love my pets!
Animals hold a special place in our hearts and the thought of them going to a rescue centre breaks our hearts. In a Will you can appoint people to look after your beloved animals and make financial provision for their wellbeing. Lots of my clients do this.
- People are financially dependent on me but I don’t trust them with my estate
This is not uncommon! Lots of us want to provide for loved ones who if given a lump-sum, are likely to fritter it away or it will be wasted due to alcohol or substance abuse. Large sums of money can often have a positive impact on peoples lives but they can also have negative impacts and we can use our Will to protect, not only the estate that we’ve worked hard to build, but also the future for our loved ones. We can do this with the use of trusts and trust funds. This means that someone we trust (perhaps a professional trustee) will manage the trust to ensure it’s not wasted and can drip feed money when needed.
- Disabled beneficiaries
If you have loved ones who are living with any form of disability and you’d like to ensure that they are looked after in the event that you’re not around, then we can plan for this with the use of trusts in your Will. They work similarly to the example above and we appoint someone we trust to manage a disabled discretionary trust or vulnerable persons trust. This means that we have peace of mind knowing that they will continue to have the care and lifestyle they need.
There are lots more reasons that people write Wills but these are some of the most common reasons and ways that I support my clients. If you would like a no-obligation informal chat about writing your Will, or if you have a question then feel free to contact me. After a chat, you’ll have a clearer idea of what plans you could make.
There are lots of misconceptions about Wills and people assume that their unmarried partner will inherit everything if they pass away. This is not the case. I’ve seen some horror stories during my years in practice where people were expecting to inherit, the person who died wanted them to inherit, but they were disinherited because no Will was in place.
Another common misconception is that if you don’t have anything to leave, you don’t need a Will. This simply isn’t true. A Will, as we can see above, takes into account non-material items but also states our funeral wishes, revokes previous Wills, and provides us with real peace of mind. Wills are not just for ‘old’ people. Anyone over the age of 18 could and should consider writing their Will.
For any advice call me. I’m Sara, I’m friendly and I’m here to help by providing legal services across East Kent.