A Will is a legal document in which a person (the testator or testatrix) sets out how they wish to have their assets (property, money and possessions) distributed, on death. Without a valid Will, your estate will be distributed in line with the intestacy rules and the people whom you would wish to inherit your estate, may not benefit at all.
There are certain life events that may inspire the preparation of a new Will or amending an existing Will. These include:
- Buying your first home/Moving home
- A significant change in your financial situation (inheriting money)
- Acquisition of land/property
- Starting/running a business
So why is having a Will so important?
- Distribution of Assets: A Will allows you to specify how your assets should be distributed among your beneficiaries. You may wish to consider setting up a trust for your children so you can control the age your children receive the money and what it gets used for.
- Avoiding Intestacy Laws: Dying without a Will means your estate will be subject to intestacy laws. These are default rules that decides those persons responsible for administering your estate and importantly, governs who benefits from your estate. These rules will not often align with your wishes, resulting in unintended consequences. An unmarried partner (cohabitant) is not entitled to inherit anything from your Estate, under said rules, regardless of how long you have been together.
- Guardianship of Minor Children: If you have minor children, a Will allows you to designate a guardian to take care of them in the event of your death. Without a Will, the court will decide who becomes the legal guardian, and it may not be the person you would have chosen.
- Executor(s) Appointment: You are required to appoint an executor/s in your Will who is/are responsible for carrying out the terms of the Will and managing the distribution of your estate. This ensures that a person/persons you trust is/are in charge of settling your affairs.
- Minimising Family Disputes: Clearly stating your intentions in a Will can reduce conflicts and disputes among family members. A Will expressly states your decisions and will reduce the likelihood of disagreement.
- Charitable Contributions: If you have specific charities or causes you’d like to support, a Will allows you to make bequests or donations to them.
- Tax Planning: Depending on the size of your estate, a well-crafted Will can help minimise estate taxes and ensure that your assets are distributed in a tax-efficient manner.
- Expressing Personal Wishes: Your Will is an opportunity to express personal wishes beyond the distribution of assets, such as funeral arrangements, organ donation preferences, or specific instructions for the care of pets.
Having a Will is a proactive step in planning for the future and can provide peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out as you intended.
Article written by Mike Lambert – Solicitor and Head of Private Client at Edmondson Hall Solicitors.
If you would like further information or to book an appointment, please contact us on 01638 560556 and speak to our experienced Private Client team.
Alternatively, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org