News flash; You DO already have a Will
A colleague told me recently how he explains to his clients that we all do already have Wills written for us by the law. Intestacy law does actually dictate exactly who will benefit when you pass away. So we don’t need to write Wills right?? Well, not exactly – do you know what the Intestacy laws say? Do they match what you would want to happen? Let’s run through the main one’s to find out;
If you’re married/in a civil partnership then your spouse would receive your estate. If you’re not married then your children or parents. If you are currently single with no children you might well think that’s great – but think about whether your parents ‘need’ the money – could it be swallowed up in nursing home costs? Could it add to their inheritance tax bill when they pass? Would it be better directed to your siblings? Nieces/nephews? If you’re currently living with your partner, not married, but you share children, you will take peace of mind knowing your children will receive the funds – but will you have enough money to live on? Or maybe you don’t share children and your partners children from a previous relationship now own the house you shared together. (Scottish law has a slightly different path, and enforcement – this will be looked at in our next blog)
Who looks after things
If you don’t have a Will then the roles that need to be taken when someone passes away are chosen for you, by the courts, by local authorities. Perhaps the most important decision that would be made for you would be who looks after your children if they were under 18 (16 in Scotland). Our local authorities in Britain generally do an incredible job, and their focus is the safety of the child, but would they understand your views on parenting style? Religious upbringing? They would unlikely be aware of any underlying family disputes or concerns. If a child is a beneficiary of inheritance where there isn’t a Will, the law says they can inherit when the reach 18. That may… or may not sit comfortably with you depending on your life choices when you were that age! Also, if there is no Will then who manages their funds until they reach the inheritable age is chosen by the courts. Is it someone you would have chosen? Is it a professional body who will charge for their work, when actually, you could have thought of a responsible friend/relative who could have taken it on?
How you go
If you have no Will, or other funeral plan/directions then it is your Executor who will take responsibility for your funeral arrangement. Who is your Executor? Would they know what you would have liked, or not liked? A client this week expressed concerns her sibling might impose a religious service when it would be firmly against her wishes. She loves her sibling dearly and wouldn’t want to cause any tension by having the conversation ahead of time, but this possibility caused her some distress. Without a Will there would potentially be nothing preventing or notifying her sibling of her wishes.
No matter what stage of life you’re at, is to get a Will in place…having said that I spoke to future clients this evening who have recently married, they are both named on their property (and mortgage) as their only asset and have no children. And I do understand and accept their lack of urgency to get their Wills drafted after we had a good chat about the Intestacy law paths. They’re glad to now know what is their next likely trigger to get back in touch.
There are lots of life time events that should prompt us to write or re-visit our Wills. Even if you don’t feel you need one – because the Intestacy law matches your plans, then I will leave you to consider what the majority of our clients tell us when they seek our services; They have just gone through their own parents affairs after they’ve passed away and are motivated to make sure their children don’t have to wade through the same chaos and arguments.
Whether you want to choose your own succession path, or just keep the peace for loved ones, let us help you make your wishes legal. Remember advice is free, so get in touch