I am often asked the question “Why should I make a will?”.
As an experienced Private Client Lawyer, I have drafted Wills for a variety of different reasons. Getting Solicitors to draw up your Will does not have to be expensive. It will give you peace of mind and may save a lot of anxiety, stress and upset for those you leave behind.
Many companies offer Will Drafting services however, Solicitors are regulated offering the consumer protection should a complaint be warranted. Wills and Succession law is complex and technical and it is disturbing as a qualified lawyer to see that this service is being offered by unregulated companies often leading to incorrect advice being given.
With the increase of IT software consumers are choosing to do a “homemade Will” downloading this software from the Internet. Homemade Wills often lead to ambiguity, important information being omitted or clauses being misinterpreted leading to uncertainty and all or part of the Will being invalid which can lead to family disputes and lengthy and expensive litigation.
Highlighted below are ten reasons why you should consider making a Will.
- Making a Will gives you the opportunity to decide who should administer your estate and who should inherit. If you do not have a Will the law determines both these factors.
- You can specify your funeral wishes and record these in your Will.
- If your children are orphaned before they reach 18 the Courts will appoint guardians to take care of them until they reach the age of majority. Those appointed may not necessarily have been the people who you would have chosen. By making a Will you can appoint guardians choosing persons with parenting skills and beliefs similar to your own, confident that they would accept the appointment and your children would be raised and cared for by those of your choosing.
- You can make specific bequests such as gifts of jewellery, a motor vehicle, a painting etc. You can also leave legacies of money to friends, family or charitable organisations.
- You can state what should happen to your pet – where it is to be re-homed. You can provide a legacy of money to the person you appoint to take care of your pet to assist with veterinary bills, food and its general well being.
- It is not unusual for married couples to have children from previous relationships. Making a Will can ensure any children from previous relationships or marriages will receive a share of your estate.
- Ever heard the expression “common law man and wife” – it is commonly and wrongly assumed that such couples inherit automatically! Unless they are named in the Will there is no automatic right to receive anything!
- If you do not leave a Will, if your Will is invalid or if your Will creates a partial intestacy – your estate, or part of it, will be distributed in accordance with the intestacy rules. YOUR spouse or civil partner may NOT receive as much as you would have intended. If you die without having made a Will and you have no surviving spouse or children, your parents or siblings may inherit your estate, even if you’d prefer it to go elsewhere.
- The absence of a Will can lead to family disputes often destroying family dynamics.
- A Will may result in an inheritance tax saving.
This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.