A will is the only way to fully ensure that your property and loved ones are protected when you die. Yet around 58% of adults do not have a valid will.
Without one, the Government directs, in a strict specified order, who should inherit from your estate. This could mean that your relatives, friends and charities may get nothing.
It is also particularly important to make a will if you are not married to your partner as the law does not currently recognise partners as having the same rights as husbands and wives.
A Will is also crucial if you have children or dependents who may not be able to care for themselves. Without a will, there could be uncertainty about who will look after or provide for them if you pass away.
While each person’s situation varies due to personal preferences, there are 8 top reasons to have a will.
1. You Decide How Your Estate Will Be Distributed
A will is a legally binding document that lets you determine how you would like your estate to be handled when you die. If you pass away without having created a will, then there is no guarantee that your preferences will be carried out. Deciding and stating how you would like your estate handled will minimise any family conflicts that may arise and help clarify the “who, what and when” of your estate. If you are unsure how to distribute your estate, specialised will solicitors like ourselves and others can give you advice.
2. Make Gifts and Donations
Leaving gifts is an excellent reason to have a will because it allows your kindness and legacy to live on and reflects interests and personal values. Of course, you don’t have to wait until you die to donate to a charity – but leaving gifts and donations in your will can make sure it continues to do good, and cut your tax bill, which can leave your family with less of a financial headache.
Remember to include the details of the charity in your will carefully, to avoid any disputes. This should include its registered charity number and address.
3. If Circumstances Change in Your Life Then So Can Your Will
Another thing that people do not think about is that they can change their will at any time while they are alive. Births, deaths, divorce and other life changes can create circumstances where changing your will is necessary.
4. You Can Decide Who Will Look After Your Children If They Are Minors
Having a will allows you to make an informed decision that is legally binding about who should take care of your children if they are minors. If you don’t have a will, then it ends up as the court’s decision. It allows you to appoint a person that you wish to raise your children and more importantly who you don’t want to raise your children.
5. Disinherit Individuals
One of the things about wills that people do not realise is that they can disinherit people out of their will. Without a will, your estate may end up in the wrong hands or in the hands of someone that you did not intend such as an ex-partner or ex-spouse.
6. Minimise the Amount of Inheritance Tax
Another reason to have a will is that it minimises the amount paid in inheritance tax. If there isn’t a will, it’s the administrator of the estate who does this. The inheritance tax is normally paid from the funds in the estate, or from money raised by the sale of assets if the estate has no cash.
7. Decides Who Winds Up Your Affairs
When you pass away, executors make sure all your financial affairs are in order, including paying off bills, cancelling your credit cards, notifying the bank and other business establishments and more. Because executors play the biggest role in the administration of your estate, you want to be sure to appoint someone who is honest, trustworthy, organised and who will deal with your estate the way you want.
8. You Have Personal Items that Have Sentimental Value to Someone
If you have personal items such as jewellery, artwork or a coin collection that are of sentimental value to you and one or more other individuals, you may want to specify who will get such personal items.
A will gives you the opportunity to do this. Not only does having a valid Will provide you with the opportunity to indicate who gets the item you value following your death, but it will also make the person who receives the item happy to know you thought of them.