Many people ask, why do you need a will? The short answer is that, if you have set ideas about who you would like to benefit from your estate when you die, or on the other hand you are particular about who you would not like to inherit any of your assets, then the only way to take control is to make a will. But there are more reasons why you need a will. Let’s explore some of them in more detail.
As we have said, a will is the only way you can be absolutely sure that your personal wishes will be carried out when the time comes.
Reason #1: Without a will, the intestacy rules apply
If you die without making a will, the intestacy rules will apply. In such cases, the estate is divided up according to a set hierarchy of inheritance. This means that any personal wishes you have had concerning who should receive what, will be taken away from you.
When someone dies intestate, their assets are distributed after all the debts, expenses and any taxes due have been paid. If there is a living spouse or civil partner together with children, then the spouse or civil partner will inherit all personal possessions, and the first £250,000 of the estate, as well as half of anything over this amount. The children are then entitled to the remaining balance.
Where there are no children, the spouse or civil partner will inherit the entire estate, including any personal possessions.
If someone dies leaving a partner, but they are not married or in a civil partnership, and there are no children, then that partner will have no automatic right of inheritance, even if you have lived together for many years.
Where there is no spouse, civil partner or children, the estate will pass to other relatives, such as siblings, nieces or nephews, and so on. Where there are no surviving relatives, the estate will pass to the Crown.
If you would prefer to take control over who inherits your estate, and if you are concerned that a partner to whom you are not married or in a civil partnership with may be left with nothing, the solution is simple: make a will.
Reason #2: You cannot appoint guardians for dependants unless you have a will
If you have children, or other dependants, you will obviously want what is best for them, including after you’ve gone.
The only way to decide for yourself who should take responsibility for your dependants is to appoint guardians via your will. If you don’t do this, then it could be left to the state to decide who will bring up your children should you die when they are still young.
If you are looking for reasons why you need a will, and you have children, this has to be one of the most important.
Reason #3: You can only leave charitable donations through a will
Whether it’s an organisation that has always been dear to your heart, a foundation that helped you or a loved one through a difficult time, or perhaps even a charity that you yourself are a patron of, the only way to leave a legacy is to do so via a will.
Simply telling someone, or leaving an informal note, is not enough to make a charitable legacy legally binding. So, if you want complete peace of mind that your charity of choice is gifted from your estate, make a will.
Reason #4: With a will, uncertainty for loved ones is eliminated
There is nothing worse for grieving loved ones than not knowing the deceased’s personal wishes. A will takes away all the doubt over who should receive what, making it easier for everyone involved to make decisions. Aside from property and cash, this can include possessions such as vehicles, or particularly valuable items such works of art, collectors’ items or jewellery.
Without a will, disputes often arise amongst family members. Sometimes these can get to the point where they are so serious, that a solicitor needs to get involved. If the thought of family arguments fills you with dread, then make a will. Disputes can tear families apart, and can be very costly to resolve too.
Reason #5: A will allows you to decide who deals with your estate
If you die without having made a will, the administration of your estate will usually fall to your next of kin. This may not be your first choice or, quite simply, you may not wish to burden them with the task whilst they are grieving.
When you make a will, you get to appoint up to four executors. These are the people who will be responsible for administering your estate. Because you are in control of who you appoint, you are able to choose people you know you can trust, and who will be capable of the task. You can also make sure they are happy with the role. This will be reassuring for you, and also gives you the opportunity to discuss your wishes with them whilst you have the chance.
Your executors can be beneficiaries and, if you prefer, you can appoint a solicitor or other professional instead of a family member or friend. The key thing is that by making a will, you get to make the decision for yourself.
Ready to make a will? Partridge Muir & Warren is ready to help.
At Partridge Muir & Warren, we offer a personalised, trusted will writing service across Surrey. If you are ready to make a will, our expert team is ready to guide you through the process, step by step.
To learn more about how we can help, you are welcome to get in touch.