Why do I Need a Will?
We believe that everyone should make a Will and there are many reasons for doing so.
To try and provide a definitive list would be very difficult so we have put together 10 of the most common and important reasons (click an item to read more).
Making a Will is probably the most important document you will ever make, and by doing so you will have provided properly for your loved ones left behind at the most distressing time of all.
If you die without having made a Will, it could well mean that your family has to endure very difficult and unnecessary financial hardships whilst your affairs are being dealt with.
Furthermore, your assets may not go to the people you would have wanted them to, and many an heirloom has been auctioned off by the courts because the families could not agree to who should have them!
If you die without making a Will, you will have died Intestate.
This means that your Estate (all that you own, such as; property, possessions, cars, cash, works of art, jewellery, savings, investments, insurances and your personal belongings), will be distributed in accordance with the Intestacy Rules as laid down by law.
These rules of intestacy are applied when the deceased person has not left a valid Will. They are designed to provide first for a surviving spouse (or civil partner), the amount allotted depends on whether the deceased had children or not. If the deceased was not survived by spouse or children, the rules then go on to set out the order in which other relatives may inherit the the Estate. If there are no relatives, then the entire Estate will pass to the Crown.
Please see the current Intestacy Rules for more details.
By making a Will you retain control over who will receive your assets when you die. You are able to distribute your property as you wish, place age restrictions as to when children may inherit, and even create trusts for the protection of assets into the future. However, if you haven’t made a valid Will at the time of your death you will have died “intestate”. This means that your Estate will be distributed in accordance with the laws on intestacy. This could result in your family, friends and charities missing out altogether or not receiving what you would have wanted them to.
Making a Will is probably even more important if you are an unmarried couple (or a same sex couple who have not entered into a civil partnership). There is no such legal status as “common law” husband or wife, and there are no provisions for unmarried couples under the current intestacy rules. Therefore your partner will not automatically inherit your Estate in the event of your death. Making a valid Will is the only way to ensure that the people you choose to leave assets to will be provided for in the event of your death.
This can have devastating financial and legal implications for the surviving partner, as well as major emotional stresses at the saddest of times.
If you have made a Will, the legal process in dealing with your affairs will be easier and much less painful during what is already a difficult time for your loved ones.
However, where a Will has not been made, the individual will have died intestate. This means that Letters of Administration must be applied for by the deceased’s personal representative. Until these are obtained bank accounts will be frozen, and access to any part of the Estate will not be possible. Obviously, this can often create unnecessary distress and financial hardship for the family whilst the deceased’s affairs are dealt with.
A Will is the only place where you can appoint a Guardian for your children. If you die without having made a Will, that opportunity will have been lost.
If you are a parent of young children, including those not yet born, there is of course a strong desire to protect their future if anything happens to you.
Making a Will enables you, as a parent, to appoint legal Guardians of your choice to look after your children until they reach the age of 18. Tragically, where a Will has not been made, the courts will appoint someone on your behalf – but it may be someone you would not have chosen, or wanted. Your children could even end up in care.
When making a Will you, as the Testator, will be required to nominate up to four Executors, often family members, to deal with your affairs on your death. By doing so you will be confident in the knowledge that your affairs will be handled in accordance with your wishes by someone you trust, and your loved ones will be left with clear instructions on how to deal with your Estate.
A Will can include the creation of Trusts for your children (or grandchildren) to receive a gift of money, property or other assets, that is place in the hands of Trustees nominated by you. You will leave separate instructions as to how you wish the Trust to be administered, and how any proceeds from the asset may be dispersed to the child. You will also indicate when you consider the Trust should be closed and the proceeds passed on to the child.
There may also be occasions when you consider the inheritance of an adult should be administered by a Trustee, especially in instances where the recipient has an addiction problem with drugs or gambling, or who you may consider is a spendthrift, and therefore may require constant or permanent financial guidance and control.
There are also specialised Will Trusts that are designed to help the future security of a disabled or vulnerable beneficiary without affecting their benefit entitlement from the state or local authority.
See our Vulnerable Persons Trust page for more information.
Many people throughout their lives are kind supporters of charities, and make regular contributions to their favourite charity, as well as gifts in their Wills. However, if you die without making a Will the opportunity will have been lost.
Similarly, many people like to leave a token of their appreciation to a long-standing friend or neighbour in recognition of their help over the years. Perhaps you might like to make a gift to a special cousin, nephew or niece. All of this can be done in your Will – but if you die intestate they will receive nothing!
Your Executor is responsible for making your funeral arrangements in accordance with your preferences as set out in your Will. You can indicate here your preference to be buried or cremated, and the details of floral tributes or donations to charities, music to be played, and even where you wish your ashes to be scattered!
Funeral costs these days are particularly expensive and have risen by more than 80% since 2004. With the average cost of a funeral today being in the region of £3,500, we have a range of plans where you are able to fix the funeral director’s costs at today’s prices – whenever you die!
See our Funeral Plans page for more information.