A 5-minute read
Why you need a Will and might not realise it
People regularly say, ‘I don’t need a Will as I don’t have anything valuable to pass on’. We would then ask them, do you:
- Have children?
- Own a house or business?
- Live in a family with half- or step-relations?
- Have specific wishes for certain belongings or charity gifts once you’re gone?
- Want to protect as much of your estate and assets as possible and avoid a family dispute?
All of the above points are very good reasons for putting a Will in place, which is more affordable than you might think.
Some people do not like to have this difficult conversation, and many do not consider what would happen to their property, pets, car, savings, pensions, wedding ring or family heirlooms once they are no longer around.
A Will allows you to voice your opinion, and gives you peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out as you want them to be. This blog covers certain life changing events which mean you should consider making (or updating) your Will.
When should I think about putting a Will into place?
On average we say that most people have three milestones when a Will is most important during their lifetime. Here are 3 reasons why you need a Will to protect you and your loved ones.
Your 1st Will milestone
A good time to make your first Will is when you get married or buy your first home. At this point you have a very valuable asset to pass on to your loved one. If you then move home or become divorced, consider updating your Will at this point.
Your 2nd Will milestone (or an update)
Review your Will if you have children. This needs to include guardianship clauses so that if your children are still young and you are no longer around, they will be looked after and provided for by those you choose to take care of them.
We advise that this is looked at again once your children are grown up. At this point, your circumstances are likely to be very different to when writing your first Will.
Your 3rd Will milestone (or update)
Of course, if your circumstances change, it is advisable to review your Will again. This may be due to getting married again and having a new family to consider, gaining an inheritance or valuable assets, or even having a lottery win.
Why do you need a Will in place?
Consider creating a Will to protect your family and so your wishes are carried out. Also, a Will allows you to nominate people you trust to be your executors sort out your affairs. Without this a professional will be appointed and your loved ones might have little say over what happens.
Many UK adults do not have a Will in place, and are potentially leaving their family and assets unprotected.
Although a Will is mainly to pass financial assets to who you desire, it is also useful for passing on sentimental items such as heirlooms, jewellery and antiques. By putting them in to the Will it gives you certainty that they will be passed to the people you want them to be passed to.
You can also make provision for charities close to your heart and make sure children and pets are cared for.
What happens if I don’t have a Will?
If you do not have a Will, your assets will be passed via a process called intestacy (not having a valid Will in place). This is particularly important for unmarried or co-habiting couples as there is no such thing as a ‘common law’ wife or husband. Depending on how assets are held, without a Will, co-habiting couples have no automatic entitlement to each others’ assets.
This is also important if a married couple were unfortunately to pass away at the same time, for example in car crash. This will result in all assets being passed to one side of the family. It is likely that this is not what they would have wanted and a Will would prevent this from happening.
A common misconception is that a spouse is entitled to everything. This is incorrect. It depends on if there are any children and the value of the estate – important considerations for why you need a Will.
Without writing a Will, you cannot guarantee that financial assets and sentimental items pass to the people you would want them to.
Unfortunately, without a Will it is also not unusual for distress and division to be created when family members make claims to assets and other items left behind by a family member.
Why should I update my Will?
There are many reasons why your Will should be updated. A change in circumstances, a change in the law, a change of wishes or if something happens to the people named in your current Will to name a few. It is important to have regular Will reviews (we recommend every few years) so that you can be sure your wishes are up to date.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused many people to review their Wills. It is something that many people do not like to think about but nevertheless it is highly important. Covid-19 especially has highlighted the uncertainty of everyday life, and that creating or updating a Will is not something that should be put off until a later date.
Thank you to the author: Ceri Burns