As this is National Write A Will Week, it is perhaps ironic that a survey commissioned by HSBC has reported that two-thirds of UK parents have not made a Will - prompting concerns regarding family protection.
Commenting on the findings, Christine Foyster of HSBC said, “The fact that such large numbers of households are not planning ahead is leaving families greatly exposed to unforeseen events.”
The study surveyed 18,000 people covering 17 countries worldwide, and of those, only parents in Canada were less likely than those in the UK to have a Will in place providing for their offspring on death.
It is not difficult to see why this gives cause for concern. Signing a Will allows you to decide who would look after the children if you were to die before they were of age, as an appointment of a guardian under a Will is legally binding. Thankfully, most parents will survive well beyond the childhood of their offspring, but if you were unlucky and had not made a Will it would be left to the court to decide who should be appointed - and that might be an entirely different individual from the person you would have wished to look after your children.
In your Will, you can also direct who is to inherit, in what proportions, and - just as importantly - at what age. If you have no Will, any children would inherit at 16 in Scotland - an age not usually associated with the ability to make mature financial decisions. Most people would naturally wish to delay an inheritance until age 18 at the very earliest, if not age 21 or 25. The only way to do this is to put a Will in place.
Signing a Will is not a daunting task, and surprisingly inexpensive. Carpe diem!