Should I make a Will?
Making a Will gives you peace of mind that, upon your death, your estate will pass to those relatives and friends exactly as you wish.
Dying without a Will (Intestate) means that your estate will be divided in a specific way, as defined by law, and beneficiaries will automatically be entitled to their share regardless of your wishes.
Other things to consider at the time of making a Will are:
- Appointing Guardians: If you have children, you may wish to appoint someone specific to look after them following your death.
- Appointing Executors: When you make a Will you instruct a certain person or persons, known as “Executors”, to deal with the administration of your estate. This should be someone who you trust and feel has the ability to undertake this task.
- Specific and Charitable Legacies: You do not have to leave a share of your estate to a specific beneficiary – you can leave a legacy of a specified sum of cash or even a specific item e.g. jewellery, a painting or piece of furniture etc. You may also wish to consider leaving a legacy to a charity of your choice.
- Second Families: Where someone has married for the second time and has children by their first marriage, it is possible to stipulate in a Will that you wish your new husband/wife to be allowed to continue to live in your property until their death and after that the property will revert to your children. This is known as a "Liferent". You may also allow your new husband/wife to receive the income from your estate, but at the same time preserving the capital which will go to your children in due course. This is often a way of “keeping everyone happy” when there is conflict between children and step-parents.
- Cohabitant Rights: Estates of couples who live together but who are not married to each other do not automatically pass to the surviving partner. A cohabitant can make a claim against their partner’s estate in certain circumstances. Making a Will gives you more power and certainty as to whom your assets will pass upon your death.
- Avoiding Intestacy: Another factor to consider is the cost and time involved in administering a deceased person’s estate. By making a Will and appointing Executors you will save your estate time and expense. Otherwise if you do die intestate, then your relatives will have to apply to the Court to be appointed as your Executors and also they will have to obtain an insurance policy known as a "Bond of Caution" which generally makes this process longer and more expensive. Making a Will will eliminate these problems.
Reviewing your Will: Even if you already have a Will, it is generally prudent to have a look at it from time to time to make sure it still reflects your current wishes. There are various “triggers” following which you may wish to consider updating your Will such as:
- A new partner
- The birth of or adoption of children
- Selling your home
- Setting up or running a business
- Receiving an inheritance or large sum of money
- One of your appointed executors or beneficiaries predeceasing you etc.
We can give you advice regarding updating your existing Will, even if we did not prepare the original.
As you can see, not leaving a Will can often mean your estate does not pass to the people you would like it to go to not to mention increased expenditure and work for those left behind. The solution is to make a Will and thereafter to review it periodically. We are happy to advise you in relation to the making of your Will.