Usually we don’t want to discuss death – it’s a morbid subject and, for many, it may seem very far away. However, it may sound cliché, but we don’t know what life will throw at us, and all what we have worked hard for, our possessions, our property, our finances, may be all at jeopardy if we don’t make a Will.
Don’t think of a Will as just a document you get when you’re elderly or in poor health, but consider it a vital piece of your family’s infrastructure, no matter what age you are, and something that will protect your children and your spouse, and will make happen what you want to happen after you’re gone.
After you’re gone, someone will be left with, not just grief, but the stress of dealing with your property, possessions and finances, which we call your ‘estate’. In your Will you can identify a person who you wish to carry out the instructions you have left in your Will, someone you trust.
What happens if I don’t have a Will?
When a person passes away, without leaving a valid Will, their estate will be shared out according to the ‘rules of intestacy’. Only married or civil partners and some other close relatives can inherit under the rules of intestacy.
Also, if a Will is created which is not legally valid, the rules of intestacy decide how the estate will be shared out which is not always how you would want them.
This can result in:
- Your ex-spouse inheriting your estate
- A ‘common law spouse’ (which do not exist legally) not inheriting your estate
- Parents, brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews of the intestate person may inherit the estate
- Friends, carers or relations by marriage will not receiving anything from your estate
- If there are no surviving relatives who can inherit under the rules of intestacy, the estate passes to the Crown
- If you own, or part own, a business this or your share of may fall under the rules of intestacy
What can a Will do?
You can leave as many or as little provisions as you like and identify individuals to take possession of certain parts of your estate when you’re gone.
This means you are deciding where your estate goes, not the Crown. Usually, without a Will, your estate will be left with your next of kin, and if you are estranged from them or have not had the conversation about what you want to happen with your entire estate, what you want to happen may not happen.
Not only this, it can make sure your wishes such as arrangements regarding your dependents, your funeral and even your pets.
Also, it may be important to consider that your digital assets, such as social media profiles, digital images, emails, websites etc, may be very valuable or important, and a Will can make sure that these are safeguarded.
What are the main advantages?
Making a Will can ensure the following:
- Your family are protected, ensuring that they receive your estate
- You will decide who receives your estate, not the Crown, which is particularly important during or after matters of separation and divorce, if you have children from past relationships, you are estranged from immediate family or you are not married. Do not just presume what will happen
- Reduce the risk of inheritance disputes
- Avoid the rigid “Intestacy Rules” which dictates what happens to your estate if you don’t have one
- There will be less stress for your next of kin after you’re gone
- Your funeral will be how you want it
- Safeguard the preservation and future of certain aspects of your estate with ‘trusts’
- You may pay less Inheritance Tax
- Your digital assets will be protected and either safeguarded or erased
- Protect your pets and decide what happens to them
- Protect your investments, such as monies in shared bank accounts and joint tenancies on property
- Protect a business or the shares in a business you own
How often should I update my Will?
Key life events can have a major impact on the validity and effectiveness of your Will. You should review if the following happens:
- You separate from your spouse and are in the process of, or have, filed for a Divorce. If you pass away your ex-spouse will most likely inherit your estate
- If you are making wedding arrangements as entering into a Marriage or Civil Partnership
- If you have had a child
- If you, or anyone mentioned in your Will, changes their name or address
- If you sell a property you have identified as a gift to a specific individual
- It reaches 5 years since your last review as the laws relating to Inheritance Tax are updated frequently, which makes it important to keep in contact with the law firm who created your Will
- You become or a chance you could become seriously ill
It’s very important that the Will you create is legally binding and appropriate for you. It’s vital that you use a trained professional, such as myself, so you avoid the ‘rules of intestacy’ and your family is protected.
Not only do I deal with matters of creating, reviewing and amending Wills, I also deal with matters of Probate after a person has passed away, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Court of Protection matters, Trusts and Inheritance Tax. I’m also dementia trained and can offer home visits if required.
If you would like to discuss your situation with me further, you can email Howells to make an appointment at [email protected], visit our website or call us:
Sheffield: 0114 249 66 66
Barnsley: 0122 680 51 90
Rotherham: 0170 936 40 00
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