In September 2019 research carried out by the Remember a Charity consortium revealed that almost one third of British people believed they only needed to make a will if they were very rich. The research also revealed that almost 2/3 of adults across the UK do not have a will. Many are unaware of the potential flexibility of will writing and nearly 2 in 5 (37%) assume their estate will automatically pass to their partner and children.
Last December I published an article setting a checklist of five good reasons why all adults should make a will and so as we approach the festive season once again, I thought now would be a good time to re-visit that article. Whilst it is always a difficult time when a loved one passes away, making a will can at least mean that life is a little easier for those who you have left behind as regards sorting out your financial affairs.
The five good reasons why you should make a will are as follows:
- Do you have a specific request regarding your funeral? Perhaps you want to be buried in a particular place or in a joint burial plot. Maybe you wish to have your ashes spread in a place which has fond memories for you? Indeed, just the confirmation of whether you wish to be buried or cremated – all these matters can be dealt with in your will.
- English law operates on the basis of testamentary freedom. Subject to any persons who may be entitled to make a claim alleging unreasonable financial provision, making a will means your estate goes to those who you want to have it, whether that be friends or family, a combination of the two and/or perhaps including a charity donation. If you do not have a will your estate will pass to those entitled under the rules of intestacy which could include a member of your family with whom you are estranged and would prefer not to inherit. In circumstances where there are no living relatives your estate could even pass to the Crown.
- Do you have items of jewellery or other personal possessions which may not be of particular value in monetary terms but do have sentimental value – for example, photos which you have stored in the cloud or on a social media account. You may even have other accounts where you have accrued substantial loyalty points or bonuses. If so, a will can set out your wishes as to who you would wish to inherit these items, albeit subject in the case of any online/social media accounts to the terms of the user agreements themselves.
- What if you have minor children? Importantly, a will allows you to appoint guardians for your children to ensure their well-being after you have died. A will would also allow you to set up trust arrangements for any minor children ensuring that both financial security and care arrangements are in place.
- A will providing for your assets to be held in trust may also mean substantial tax savings can be made ensuring that as much of your estate as possible is available for distribution to your loved ones. It may also be helpful to know that a charitable donation is free of inheritance tax.
Making a will is often something that people put off doing because they think they do not need one or are too young to have one or simply because they do not have time to do so. Unfortunately, none of us know what is round the corner so do not delay, make a will today!!!! This festive season give your loved ones some peace of mind and ensure you have good tax planning in place and that your estate is distributed so far as is possible in accordance with your wishes - make a will!