Making a will is often a subject that people find hard to discuss or leave until it’s too late.
While this is an understandable way to feel, it is very important to have a will in place for a variety of reasons.
A will lets you choose who you wish to inherit your estate. Otherwise, the division of your estate is dictated by the rules of intestacy, which may not be in line with your wishes.
This is particularly important if you wish your unmarried partner, friends, step-relatives or charities to benefit and/or if you have a business. The latter is important because having a will means you can choose the persons who would have the expertise to carry on your business after your death, which may not be your family, whom it may fall to under the rules of intestacy.
These are the persons given the responsibility to administer your estate. If you leave a will, you can appoint persons that you trust to deal with such matters, but if you do not, then administrators can be appointed who may not be your first choice.
If you have a business, an administrator would have no authority to deal with your assets until they are appointed by a court. If you make a will, the executors will have the power to act from the date of your death.
The appointment of executors would prevent uncertainty and worry, enabling you to appoint the most suitable person or persons for the role.
It may be a worry as to who will look after your children if something unforeseen happened and you died while your children were still under the age of 18 years. You can make your wishes known within your will.
Appointing guardians within your will gives you the opportunity to appoint persons you trust and who share your values. This may avoid the need to involve courts or prove to be useful evidence to produce at court, at an already difficult time.
A word some people are scared of, trusts are a mechanism that may be very useful in all sorts of circumstances, such as second marriages and a way of supporting family members who depend on you financially and may not be able to manage their own affairs.
In these types of scenario, you can appoint persons as trustees to look after assets on behalf of the beneficiaries (those entitled to the assets) to ensure they live in full comfort for the rest of their lives.
Inheritance Tax (IHT) planning
Using an experienced and trusted professional to draft your will means that you can also be advised of the exemptions and reliefs that may be available. Our sister firm, RRL, can advise on a wide range of taxation matters as Chartered Tax Advisers. If your circumstances require in-depth advice, then we can refer you to someone in the Tax Team.
April 2017 saw the introduction of the additional reliefs on residential property. Therefore it may be an important time to seek advice about IHT planning.
Updating your will
Even if you currently have a will in place, it is important to regularly review it particularly to take into account changes to your personal and/or financial circumstances. Furthermore, it is important to bear in mind changes in the law which may affect your tax position.
Something else to bear in mind is that if you have married since you made your last will, then unless it was made in contemplation of that marriage, your will is usually revoked automatically. Again, it is important to speak to a professional.
You can set out as much or as little detail as you like in respect of your wishes. This will provide your executors/family with clear instructions.
Peace of mind
It can be considered as a morbid exercise, but please let me invite you to see it in another way. Having a well drafted will in place gives you peace of mind that all of your affairs are in order and those that you care for most will be looked after in line with your wishes.
We pride ourselves on providing top quality service for all of our clients. We have a vast amount of experience in will writing and estate planning. Your will is individual to you and your specific circumstances, and we are committed to ensuring your needs are met.
This publication has been prepared by RRL Wills Limited. It is to be treated as a general guide only and is not intended to be a comprehensive statement of the law or represent specific advice. No liability is accepted for the opinions it contains, or for any errors or omissions. All rights reserved.