We Should All Make a Will – And Here’s Why…
Posted on: 10 December 2014 by William Freddy Hope
Families have never been more complicated. Thanks to the prevalence of divorce and remarriage, families are getting bigger, with step-children, half-siblings and multiple spouses to complicate what happens to your money when you’re gone.
And yet, surprisingly, research conducted in 2011 indicated that only three in ten people in the UK had a will. In 2010, the treasury received £53 million from people who died without one, leaving the deceased with no say over who benefitted from the wealth accumulated over their lifetime. One year before, this figure was a phenomenal £76 million.
When it comes to making wills, it seems that many of us would rather bury our heads in the sands. However, it’s important to remember that making a will doesn’t mean that you’re going to die anytime soon; all it does mean, is that when you inevitably shuffle off the mortal coil, as all of us must, your money goes where you wish it to. With increasingly fractured families muddying the waters of entitlement, it’s never been more important to make a will to help clarify your wishes.
What Difference will Writing a Will Make?
Making a will is the only way to guarantee that your wishes will be respected upon your death. If you want absolute certainty when it comes to whom your property and possessions go to, then you need to name the ones you care about as your beneficiaries.
A properly drafted will has a number of functions:
1. Firstly, it allows you to clarify practical matters and encode your wishes by law.
2. If you have children, it can be used to indicate your wishes as to who should look after them if anything happens to you.
3. It allows you to specify whom you would like to deal with the administrative side of distributing your property and possessions, allowing you to name someone you trust to enforce your wishes.
4. It can be used to protect and preserve your assets for your loved ones and future generations.
5. It can make stipulations regarding tax planning.
What will happen if I Don’t Have a Will?
When a person dies without a will, the fate of their property and possessions is governed by the laws on intestacy. These guiding principles are rather out-dated, as they were formulated in 1925, when families were much more conventional than they are today.
The Rules of Intestacy aim to provide for those who most commonly inherit upon a person’s death: spouses, civil partners and biological children. However, they fail to take into account the relationship between unmarried partners, stepchildren, friends or pets, or the desires of some people to leave money to charity. Of course, it may be that you wish your property and possessions to be left to the former group, and thus your wishes are carried out coincidentally if you’re to die unexpectedly. However, if you want to have the final say over whom you leave your wealth to or exactly how it is to be divided, then you must codify this within a will.
How do I Make a Will?
It is possible to make your own will, but this is not recommended. To ensure that your will is legally valid, it’s important to have it drafted by a legal professional. This is because badly worded or imprecise wills can be declared null and void, or can cause problems in their interpretation – even a small mistake could cost the ones you love everything you leave behind.
None of us like to think of our own demise, but burying our heads in the sands doesn’t mean that we’ll never die. By failing to create a will, the only real consequence is to deny the people you care about the security and protection you could provide them with when you’re gone.
To find out more about why you need a will, take a look at this brilliant video from Killik & Co. – if that doesn’t convince you, then nothing will.