Why should I have a Will?
No-one likes to think about death, but there are good reasons for doing so! There are also good reasons to make sure you have a Will, and that it’s up to date.
Without a Will, your intentions may not be adhered to. Without a Will, the Intestacy rules will apply to decide how your belongings are dealt with, and there is no guarantee that your spouse or civil partner will benefit.
You can see how the Intestacy rules would be applied by following this link.
Will my partner inherit?
If you are not married or in a civil partnership, and you have no Will, your Partner will not be entitled to anything. Even if you have joint accounts or jointly held property, these will not automatically pass to them.
I have a Will, but it’s out of date…
Once you have a Will, you can’t just forget about it! As life goes on, the details can become more complicated, or circumstances change. You may divorce, be widowed, have children, or separate. Any major changes in your situation should prompt an update of your Will, to make sure that it reflects your current wishes.
What about my Business?
If you have a Business, you must have a Will. This is particularly important if you run a Limited Company with a co-shareholder. A Limited Company is a separate entity, so it will live on after your death, and a Will will designate, along with a Shareholder agreement, what happens to your shares, and how the Company will continue.
If you assume that with a small Limited Company, the major shareholders are also the Directors, without a Will and a Shareholder agreement, you could find your shares going to your offspring or your parents!
What should I think about before I make a Will?
You’ll need to know how you wish to deal with your assets, and appoint people you trust to ensure that it is properly executed. These are your Executors. You can choose up to four Executors to implement the terms of your Will, and they can be beneficiaries.
Executors will carry out the following tasks, so think carefully about who you might appoint:
- Make your funeral arrangements
- Calculate the value of your estate
- Decide whether there is any Inheritance Tax to be paid on your Estate, and arrange payment
- Apply for Probate
- Distribute your assets in accordance with your wishes
Then you need to think about the content of your Will:
- You need to make sure that any bequests are easily identifiable. This can be particularly important for example, when leaving jewellery, or specific items of sentimental value.
- If you want to leave a cash legacy to a particular charity, be clear how much and which charities you would like to benefit.
- Any liabilities, such as Inheritance Tax, will need to be paid before any remaining balance can be distributed. Those that receive these remaining amounts are known as ‘residual beneficiaries’. You should make sure that you are clear about how you want this amount to be split between these parties.
Having a Will makes sure that your wishes are carried out, but can also make life far easier and less upsetting for those left behind.
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