The start of the year is always a good time to ensure your affairs are in order. In particular, it is a good opportunity to take the time to review your Will, or put one in place if you haven’t made a Will previously.
Ideally, you should read through your existing Will at least once a year to check that it still accurately reflects your wishes. You should also review your Will if there is any major change in your circumstances. If you are in any doubt as to whether your change in circumstances needs to be reflected in your Will, you should seek professional advice from a Solicitor.
It is perhaps a surprising fact that over 2/3rds of people haven’t made a Will at all. If someone dies without leaving a valid Will then they are described as dying intestate, and their estate is dealt with under the rules of intestacy. These rules have recently been reviewed, but often do not reflect the wishes of the person who has died.
For example, if someone dies leaving a spouse or civil partner, many people believe that all their assets would automatically pass to that spouse or civil partner, but sadly this is often not the case.
If the deceased leaves children as well as a spouse or civil partner, then only part of the estate may pass to the spouse outright. The specific provisions applicable to an intestacy are dependent upon the family circumstances of the person who died.
A further common problem of an intestacy, is that there is no provision under the rules for co-habitees. With more and more couples choosing not to marry, a Will is especially crucial to ensure that a cohabiting partner is provided for.
Why else is it important to make a Will? Well, the most common reason is to ensure that your estate goes to who you want it to, although another common reason is to ensure that your estate doesn’t go to who you don’t want it to!
Equally, many people chose to benefit charities upon their death, and even make arrangement for their pets.
For anyone with children, appointing guardians to care for young children is very important too. In the absence of an appointed guardian, the courts will decide your children’s fate.
A properly drafted Will can also help with other aspects of your affairs too, such as planning to minimise future Inheritance Tax and Nursing Home fees.
For more information about Writing your Will online, tax planning and securing your inheritance visit www.flintbishop.co.uk/will-writing.html
There is also a free guide on the practical steps you need to take when someone dies,