Everyone needs a Will. A Will is the only way to ensure that your wishes are carried out after you pass and essential in safeguarding your family’s future. Failing to make a will has impacted millions of families in the UK, by preventing the deceased from being able to distribute their own wealth and assets, otherwise known as an estate, to their families how they may have desired. Instead, the burden of distribution is left to the government to decide who is eligible, and whether or not the estate is taxed.
Here are 7 vital facts we believe you should be aware of regarding wills and the authority they hold:
It’s a common misconception that even in the absence of a will, family members and loved ones will still receive the estate of the deceased fairly and in its entirety. This is not the case. Yes, a spouse or civil partner is first-in-line to receive the estate, however there is no guarantee that they will receive the estate in its entirety. Should the spouse or partner be unavailable, the next are children, grandchildren, parents, siblings or their children, half-siblings or their children, grandparents, uncles and aunts or their children and finally half-uncles and aunts or their children.
In the event that there are no relatives available, the estate will be passed onto the Crown, or the Duchies of Cornwall or Lancaster under the Law of Intestacy. It’s never too late to put your affairs in order, and ensure your estate is distributed to the ones you love exactly how you would have wanted it to be.
Writing a will could be as simple as a single Will, with no trusts or other complications, or a more extensive will including a range of stakeholders involved. It is vitally important that the right type of will is chosen however, to prevent any repercussions regarding how your estate is divided. Wills need to be crystal clear in how the estate will be distributed amongst those included.
Without this being specified in a legal document such as a will or a trust, you may come under the risk of social services intervening and making the decision of who should care for them on your behalf. Although we would like to believe that all families get on and are as close as in the movies, realistically this isn’t the case and it is important they are looked after by someone that can handle and is willing to accept the responsibility. This can only be achieved by making your wishes reality with a will or trust.
Some online providers also offer a fixed-fee service. The most reliable option for will writing would be a will writing company belonging to either the Society of Will Writers (willwriters.com) or the Institute of Professional Will Writers (ipw.org.uk). For example, Legacy4Life offer the same single and mirror will capabilities at a more affordable rate, with no affect on the quality and detail involved in the will. We supply will writing starting from £99 for a single and £195 for a mirror.
Would you rather pay a few hundred now, or a few thousand later? I’m sure the answer is obvious. Those with assets valued over the minimum rate threshold of £325,000 will pay a staggering, and avoidable, 40% inheritance tax to the State on any sum above that threshold. However, you have the ability to leave the entire estate to a husband, wife or civil partner in a will and prevent the estate from being impacted by inheritance tax – otherwise known as Spouse Exemption.
The partner can then leave up to double the value of the estate to beneficiaries, totally free of inheritance tax when they die. A smart move to prevent the state from obtaining almost half (40%) of everything you want to leave to your loved ones.
Some of the main, reoccurring errors that are typically made include not having the document signed by a witness, or asking a witness who is also a beneficiary to sign. Both very minimal aspects of the process, but without proper procedure can make the entire will redundant. This also occurs with wills that have been secured with a staple or paper clip as further documents could easily be added or removed at any point, resulting in the will becoming invalid.
Ultimately, a will should be a pre-emptive measure just in case anything should happen, regardless of if something happens or not, it is important to stay covered. As well as marriage, Divorce also alters the terms, as someone who was previously referred to as husband or wife no longer has that title.
The Law of Intestacy also do not protect unmarried couples, meaning that in the unfortunate event of death, their partner stands to inherit nothing.
We hope the above tips are insightful, and have helped to show the bigger picture of will writing. A simple Will may be all that is required, but it ensures that your family are protected and receive your legacy exactly as you would have desired. Contact Legacy4Life for further advice, guidance and information or to arrange a FREE Home Visit to discuss your will in greater detail.
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Legacy 4 Life are Members of
The Society of Will Writers & Estate Planning Practitioners
Legacy 4 Life Ltd
Regional office: c/o J Humphry Associates Ltd, 11a The Green, Stubbington, Fareham, Hampshire, PO14 2JG
Phone number: 0800 043 9611