If you die without a valid Will it can be a costly nightmare for those you leave behind and your estate will pass in accordance with the Intestacy Rules.
The Intestacy Rules set out who will inherit from your estate and those you wished to benefit may miss out. If you have no living relatives and do not have a Will, your estate may pass to the Crown.
What are the Benefits of Having a Will?
A will sets out who will benefit from your property and possessions (your estate) after your death. There are many good reasons and advantages to making a will such as:
- You can decide what happens to your estate when you die.
- You pick the executors and know that they will comply with your wishes when they deal with the administration of your estate.
- You can provide for your partner if you are not married or in a civil partnership. Some people think that after they have been living with their partner for a couple of years, they become ‘common law husband and wife’ with the same rights as married couples or civil partners. This is not the case, and could mean that your partner loses the home you shared (See The Hidden Dangers of Common Law Cohabitation).
- You can appoint guardians for any children under the age of 18.
- You can ensure that your children from a previous relationship can benefit from your estate.
- You can obtain some Inheritance Tax planning advice.
- You can decide what should happen to pets.
- Property owned as ‘joint tenants’ automatically passes to the survivor and you may want to make provision for that share to pass to someone else instead
What if I already have a Will?
If you already have a Will you should review it regularly to make sure it still reflects your wishes. The reason for reviewing your Will are numerous and may include:
- The arrival of any new children or grandchildren.
- The death of a beneficiary, executor, trustee or guardian.
- The admission of a family member into a care home.
- Any change in your circumstances through Marriage, Civil Partnership, divorce or separation. Getting Married or entering into a civil partnership automatically revokes any Will you have previously made unless provision was expressly made in contemplation of the marriage.
- Any change in your financial circumstances such as buying, selling or inheriting a property or business, selling or buying stocks, shares or other investments.
- To check if there has been a change in the law which may affect you.
We Can Help
Wills are legal documents and even the smallest errors in them can cause huge problems which can be very costly and, more importantly, may also mean that your wishes are not met. There are numerous legal formalities that need to be followed correctly without which your Will may be deemed invalid.
Although it is possible to write a Will by yourself, At McMillan Williams we advise all our clients to use a lawyer who will help you think about things that you may not have considered or even thought possible and then provide you with legal options to ensure that your wishes are carried out.
Using a Lawyer means you receive the benefits of their professional knowledge and experience safe in the knowledge that they are regulated and insured and you can be confident that there will be no mistakes.