A Will is a legal declaration of how and to whom you wish to leave your assets, including your possessions, savings and any property that you may own in the event of your death.
Even if you do not believe that your assets amount to any significant value you will still need to decide who they are left to, whether this be your family, friends or a charity of your choice.
Making a Will allows you to choose who will be responsible for dealing with the administration of your estate and winding up your affairs upon your death. Known as an executor, this is the person in charge of ensuring that your assets are distributed to your intended beneficiaries. It is important that you appoint someone that you trust and can rely on as an executor.
For unmarried couples living together it is also very important to have a Will in place as, despite a widespread belief of ‘common law’ marriage, the law does not recognise cohabitants in the same way as it does a husband, wife or civil partner. This means that, should you die having not prepared a Will, your partner could be left with nothing.
Complications in dealing with the estate of a deceased person with no Will can also be a very expensive and time consuming ordeal for those involved. This can lead to arguments and complications at an already difficult time. Having a Will drawn up will remove any doubt surrounding the distribution of your assets, saving your loved ones from further heartache.
What happens if I don’t make a Will?
Dying without a Will (known as being “Intestate”), means your assets will be distributed according to a fixed set of legal rules. The government will dictate how your estate is to be distributed.
If you die ‘intestate’ a number of problems can arise. These include; if you are married or in a civil partnership, only some of your estate may pass to the surviving spouse/civil partner; unmarried partners and step children have no entitlement whatsoever; and if there are no beneficiaries who qualify the estate could pass to the crown. Furthermore, you have no control over who will eventually be responsible for the administration of your estate.
I already have a Will so I don’t need to make another one do I?
Allowing an existing Will to become out of date can result in difficulties for your intended beneficiaries. Modern family life is ever more complicated and significant family events such as marriage and divorce along with births and deaths can have profound implications for your Will. It is important that you regularly review and, where necessary, update your Will to reflect these changes as failing to do so may invalidate some, or all, of it. Individuals should also review their Will if their financial circumstances should change significantly, as issues like inheritance tax can be considered and possibly minimised.
If you would like to discuss making a Will or reviewing an existing one please do not hesitate to get in touch on 01756 692 899.
Solicitor, Wills Trusts and Probate
This blog has been prepared by AWB Charlesworth LLP as an overview of the legislation and does not constitute advice on any specific matter. You should not take any action in relation to it without taking detailed legal advice.