According to a recent report, more than 50% of those who die every year in the United Kingdom do so without having drafted a will. The first step you should take is looking at the types of wills. There are many different reasons why people do not write a will, but often people are unaware of the many, significant benefits of having a will, and the serious consequences of dying without one. This article will lay out some of the most important reasons why it’s vital to have a will.
You have the control
Writing a will enables you to ensure that those you love will benefit when you die. When you take the decision to draft a will, you get to decide who inherits from you, in what ways they will benefit and who will be in charge of overseeing your wishes are followed when you die. A will is a legally binding document, which means it cannot be contested without a very good reason, and even if it is, your wishes will take precedence unless it can be shown your will is not valid in some way (for example, it was written when you were not in sound mind).
Dying without a will is known as ‘dying intestate’. In these circumstances, control of your assets are handed to the courts which could result in your estate being given to someone you would not have chosen, and your loved ones having to go without their inheritance. That is because under the rules of intestacy, only certain people can inherit from an estate, as follows:
- If you have a spouse or civil partner and children, your spouse or civil partner will inherit all your personal possessions and at least the first £250,000 of your estate, plus half of whatever remains. Your children will then be entitled to the other half of the rest.
- If you have a spouse or civil partner but don’t have children, your spouse or civil partner will inherit your whole estate, including your personal possessions.
- If you have children but no spouse or partner, then your children will inherit everything, divided equally between them.
- If you and your partner aren’t married or in a civil partnership and you haven’t made a will, they have no automatic right to inherit from your estate. This applies even if you’ve lived together for a long time or have children together.
If you do not have any spouse or children, then parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews may inherit your estate. It is particularly important to make a will if you fall into the category of having a long-term partner but not being married as, even if you have children, they have no right to inherit from your estate if you do not have a will, no matter how long you have been together.
Protects the future of children and pets
If you have children who are under the age of 18 and you do not make a will, then the courts would decide what happened to them in the event that you and their other parent die. Writing a will means you can appoint a legal guardian for your children who you trust will be the right person to take care of them and raise them in the way you would like. You can also appoint a legal guardian for your pets, which are considered to be personal possessions by law.
You can make a Living Will
A Living Will (sometimes known as an Advanced Healthcare Directive) is a document which specifies what actions should be taken for your health in the event that you cannot make your wishes known at the time. It can state, for example, whether you would like certain medications or treatments to be given, or withheld if they are purely for the purposes of prolonging your life with no chance of recovery. A Living Will can be made at the same time as your other will.
It avoids any conflicts
Writing a will is the best way to prevent conflicts occurring after you have died, about how your estate should be distributed. If you have clearly listed everything that you own and clearly stated how it should be distributed in your will, then it is very difficult for anyone to argue that any other arrangements should take place after your death. Unless it can be proven that your will is not valid – for example, that you were put under undue pressure when writing the will, or that you were not of sound mind when you made it, or that it was not witnessed in the correct way – then no-one has a right to argue that the instructions left in your will should not be fulfilled exactly. Everything you have written in your will should be fulfilled according to the instructions laid down by you.
You can ensure your treasured belongings will be passed to someone who will appreciate them
Writing a will means you can select those people who you wish to be beneficiaries of your will. You can not only nominate those you wish to receive the wealth you leave behind or profits of the sale of your house for example, but you can also nominate individuals you would like to receive specific items in your possession, such as a piece of jewellery or an art work, or even a photo or letter. Writing a will allows you the option of listing each asset you own and assigning it to the person you want. Where you have something of sentimental value in your collection, you may be able to think only of one right person to take possession of it. Having a will allows you to make your wishes clear on such things.
There are many benefits to writing a will, and many ways to write a will. You can write a will with the help of a solicitor, through a will writing service, or on your own using a will writing kit. It is important to get advice from a professional however, if you are unsure about any part of the will writing process, as it is vital your will is recorded in the correct way to ensure it can be declared legally valid.