52% of British adults have not made a will, according to a survey from Will Aid. Despite efforts to raise awareness around the importance of having a will in place, the number of adults without one has actually increased slightly in the last year.
Many parents have dependents and are more likely to have large financial commitments, but findings suggest a will is a key task many are neglecting. 56% of mums and dads haven’t prepared this vital piece of paperwork, up from 54% last year.
The lack of a will is a particular concern when the number of cohabiting couples is considered. It’s the fastest growing type of family in the UK. Despite the myth of ‘common law marriage’ in the UK, cohabiting partners stand to inherit nothing without a will. It can make what is already a difficult time more stressful, especially if it leads to financial difficulty.
If you die without a will, your estate will be distributed according to Intestate Law. This is unlikely to align with your personal wishes.
Will Aid Month aims to draw attention to the issues not having a will can cause. During November, Will Aid works with solicitors who waive their fee for writing a will, instead inviting clients to make a voluntary donation to Will Aid, which supports nine UK charities. Last year £1.1 million was raised.
When it comes to writing your will, there are several factors to consider, including:
- Beneficiaries: The first thing to decide is who you would like to benefit from the wealth you leave behind. There’s likely more than one person and it may be a mixture of family and friends. You can name as many or as few beneficiaries as you like in your will.
- Distribution of assets: With beneficiaries named, you then need to decide how you’d like your assets distributed among them. There are several ways you can do this, for example, leaving a portion of your overall estate to each person or naming specific assets, such as property or investments. We can help you understand the total value of your estate and individual assets, supporting you through the decision process.
- Bequeathing certain items: As well as your valuable assets, you can also name specific items in your will. These may not necessarily be worth something financially but may have sentimental value to you and your loved ones. If there’s an item you would like to pass on to someone in particular, a will can help ensure this wish is carried out.
- Guardianship of children: If you have dependents, a will can also provide them with security. Within a will, you can name a guardian for them, as well as someone to manage any inheritance they receive until they’re old enough to do it themselves. It can help give you peace of mind that your children will be looked after should the worse happen.
- Funeral instructions: If you have specific requests for your funeral, you can leave instructions in your will. These aren’t legally binding but can help your loved ones make plans with your wishes in mind.
- Giving to charity: You may want to leave a charitable donation as part of your legacy. You’ve probably supported a few causes throughout your life. Naming a charity in your will is one way you can continue to do so. You can choose to leave specified assets or a proportion of your estate to charity, and it could help reduce any potential Inheritance Tax (IHT) liability. Leaving more than 10% of your estate to charity reduces IHT rate from 40% to 36%.
- Claims against your estate: There are instances where people have made claims against an estate, despite not being named in a will. There are steps you can take to reduce this happening, such as disinheriting those you believe are likely to make a claim. Making it clear exactly what your wishes are can help ensure they’re upheld.
- Inheritance Tax planning: Having a will in place can minimise the amount of IHT that your estate is liable for. This is an area we can help with. If you want to understand if your estate is likely to be above the IHT threshold or have concerns about how much will need to be paid, please contact us.
Including the details of your financial planner in your will can also help ensure the process of distributing your assets is as smooth as possible.
Once you’ve made a will, remember to keep it up to date. It’s a good idea to review it every five years and after big life events, such as getting married, divorced, receiving an inheritance or having children. Over the years, your wishes may change, and your will should reflect this.
Here at Choice Financial Solutions we deal with the repercussions of a client not having a suitable Will in place and as such would like to offer our clients the chance to meet with our preferred Willwriter, Sue Mason of SJM Wills & Associated Services. Sue is a qualified Willwriter and member of the Institute of Professional Willwriters (IPW).
Sue told us “the most important reason to write a Will is that young children could be placed into care if the parents have died without appointing guardians in their Will. Other important reasons are that for anyone getting married, their Wills are revoked whereas if someone is getting divorced, their Will is not revoked, and people living together may not be entitled to any part of each other’s estate. In this day and age there are more and more families that have children from previous marriages so it is important to do some planning to ensure that those children inherit from their parents estate”.
Sue also said that “everyone should consider making Lasting Powers of Attorney as well as a Will. These are if you lose your mental or physical capacity to make finance or health decisions and without one in place, your next of kin have to go through a court process to make decisions for you, which can take months, and in the meantime all your finances may be frozen”.
Sue is regulated by Trading Standards and follows a strict Code of Conduct. She specialises in writing Wills and associated documents and has been qualified for nearly 14 years. She offers a complete service with up-front fees and no hidden extras and covers the whole of Hampshire. She will come to your house at a time that is convenient to you (evenings or Saturdays) so that you don’t have to take time out of your busy schedules.
If you would like to arrange an appointment with Sue please contact us at the office on 02380 633636, or fill in the form here and the team will be able to help.
Wills and Estate Planning are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.