Thinking about a time when you are no longer around may feel uncomfortable, but failing to plan ahead can risk leaving a serious financial headache and expense for loved-ones who are left behind. New research shows that six in ten adults are taking this risk as they do not have a will. Many think a will is not necessary because they believe family and friends will choose who gets what of any assets – but this is not the case.
When someone dies without a will, rules of ‘intestacy’ kick in – and it falls to the state to determine how an individual’s worldly goods and assets are distributed. These decisions made may not reflect their individual wishes. Unmarried couples have no inheritance rights under this law while the complexity of modern families is not addressed, meaning children from previous marriages could miss out.
Such anomalies are currently under consideration in a review by the Law Commission aiming to structure the will-making process friendlier and more appropriate to modern family arrangements. This is no reason to put off writing a will, individuals and families need to understand the huge benefits of having a will and the even bigger risks of not having one.
Many individuals procrastinate and delay making a will because they believe they are too young or perhaps think they do not have the required financial assets. Other concerns are costs – or not knowing how to go about organising a will. Individuals could argue they do not need a will because they either have little money in the bank or believe death is far off in the future.
However, people need to think about who they want to inherit their belongings, such as their home, car, jewellery and in some instances – their pets. It is so important to put this down in writing, so family and friends can honour all these wishes. The lack of a will can and does, trigger bitter disputes after death and some loved ones can miss out entirely.
Dying without a valid Will can lead to confusion and uncertainty for the families left behind. To improve the chances of your wishes being carried out, it is crucial to put an effective will in place.
Writing a Will is the sort of issue you can keep putting off, but with the certainty that every life will end, it is important to have something in place just in case it happens unexpectedly and before an individual’s average life expectancy is reached.
People with straightforward financial affairs may be tempted to buy a DIY will kit, either off-the-shelf or online for a few pounds. But be wary of taking the DIY option without legal know how. There are numerous legal pitfalls to navigate – and there are risks of things going wrong.
Some of the most common problems with DIY wills include documents being written in ambiguous language; the will not dealing with all the assets and belongings in the estate; and paperwork not being signed correctly. In some instances, this can cause as many problems as having no will at all. If a will is open to misinterpretation, the courts may have to decide what the intentions were. This can prove an arduous – and potentially costly – process for families.
Once a will is written it should not be forgotten. It is worth revisiting the paperwork every few years or after key events – such as marriage, having children or following divorce. Most people might not be aware that divorce and marriage revoke any previous will. Failure to understand this rule means that children of a first relationship, say, named in the original will, may get far less, or even nothing – to the benefit of a second spouse, which is probably not what the deceased intended.
With all the complexities of modern life and the interchangeable relationships over time between money, assets, family, loved ones and the uncertainty of health issues and accidents – it makes good sense to set up a Will sooner rather than later.
Get in touch with us to see how we can help you set up a Will.