We quizzed Megan Phillips, of BLB Solicitors, about the hows and whys of wills…
I’m young, happy and healthy. Why should I concern myself with making a Will now rather than when I retire?
No one knows what the future holds and so it is never too early to make a Will. Making a Will can be a simple process that will leave you certain, that if anything happens to you, your estate will pass to those people who are important to you.
I don’t own a house or have lots of money in the bank. Why should I go to the expense of making a Will?
It is important to make a Will, even if your assets are not substantial. If you are a parent, writing a Will can be the best way of ensuring that your children are provided for if you die while they are minors. You can appoint guardians in your Will. These will be the people you want to look after your children after you have gone. Furthermore, having a Will in place makes the administration process much simpler for those you leave behind. Having a well drafted Will can set your mind at rest that your whole family will be taken care of financially after your death.
Other than family, what else can I do with money and possessions should the worst happen?
In this country we have a tradition of ‘testamentary freedom’. You are free to leave your estate to whomever you wish. Whilst it is important to consider family, many people choose to benefit friends or charities instead. Often clients want to benefit a family member who is in a vulnerable position. It may be preferable to place their inheritance in trust so they do not inherit absolutely. A solicitor will be able to advise you on these options.
I’m confused about how to divide my estate. Can a solicitor assist with this?
When considering who to benefit in your Will, it is important to consider who may be entitled to make a claim against your estate if sufficient provision has not been made for them. A solicitor will be able to advise you on these potential claims and this will assist in deciding how to divide your estate. Ultimately, however, it is your decision.
How often should I review my will?
We suggest reviewing your Will at least every five years to ensure that it is still in line with your wishes. Legislation changes regularly and so we advise seeking up to date legal advice to ensure that your Will is best suited to the current law. This is particularly important when it comes to inheritance tax laws.
What happens if I die without a will?
If you die without a Will, your estate will be administered in accordance with statutory rules known as the Intestacy Rules. These govern which of your family members will inherit and often lead to unsatisfactory outcomes such as an estranged family member inheriting an estate. There are many misconceptions about these rules. For example, if you are married and do not have a Will, your spouse will not necessarily inherit your whole estate. These very inflexible rules do not always suit the modern family. Second marriages are now common and it is an increasing concern of our clients to ensure that children from previous relationships are protected when it comes to their inheritance.