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Dying Matters Awareness Week - Why do you need a Will?

A photo of Lindsey Dewart
16th May 2018

As part of Dying Matters awareness week we want to make it easier for you to protect your loved ones.

Many people put off having a will drafted for various reasons. People will often comment on how life simply gets in the way and there is also a common misconception that if you are married your spouse will automatically get everything. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and not having a will leaves families exposed to a multitude of issues.

If you weren’t already convinced here are the main reasons you should ensure you always have a legally valid will:

Being able to appoint executors and substitute executors to distribute your estate – if you died without a will it would be a Court appointed administrator who would do this for you. Whilst this would still be family, it may not be the family member you would have chosen to look after your assets, particularly where children are involved and they’re also acting as trustees for their money.

Guardians – You can appoint guardians for your children in your will which would give you the peace of mind of knowing who would be bringing up your children in the event you were not there to do so.

Personal possessions – you can gift your most treasured possessions so you have the peace of mind of knowing who will receive them on your death.

Unmarried partners – if you are not married your partner may not receive anything from your estate – even if you own a property together or have children together!

Rights of occupation in a property – if you have someone living in your property who doesn’t own it you may want to make provision for them to be able to continue occupying the property on your death.

Gifts to spouse – many people believe if they are married that their spouse will receive all of their estate. This is not the case and therefore if you don’t have a will your spouse may not receive as much money from your estate as you would have liked.

Gifts to children – you may think if you die that your children will inherit your estate anyway and so there is no need to worry. What many people don’t consider is the fact that if you died intestate a child would automatically receive their inheritance at 18 years of age. If you have a will drafted people often believe 18 to be too young when talking about significant sums of money and would opt for 21 or 25 as more appropriate ages. Having a will means you can choose the age at which children would receive their share outright.

Pets – you can ensure that your much-loved family pets are suitably rehomed in the event of your death by specifying who would look after them and providing any financial assistance with regards to their care.

Substitute beneficiaries – if something were to happen to your main beneficiaries wouldn’t you want to have a say where your assets went? If you don’t have a will they would follow the intestacy provisions which may mean your intended beneficiaries wouldn’t receive what you would have wanted them to. Further to this, if you and your spouse were both to die then all of your combined assets could end up passing down one side of the family meaning the other side are left with nothing.

Whilst the idea of organising a will can seem complex and daunting, my clients often comment after the appointment that it was so much more straightforward than they realised and that they should have done it a long time ago. A standard initial will appointment takes approximately 30 minutes, sometimes less. Give us a call to discuss how we can help.