I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but one day you are going to die, hopefully not today and certainly not while you’re reading this post.
Moving through life, you might have created loving relationships, raised a family and might have been lucky enough have been successful in your chosen career and have become financially successful.
The thing is we never really know when our time is up. We might get old, be struck by illness or have something unexpected happen to us while we trot along without a care in the world. Don’t think that you’re safe just because you’re in your own home either there are numerous ways that you can meet your maker in the comfort for your own home.
Let’s talk about death
Lets face it no one ever really wants to talk about death and why would you its a mood killer and doesn’t make for fantastic dinner party conversation and it also makes us have to come to the realisation that we are not immortal.
The thing is its a conversation more of us need to have and a lot sooner than we often do. But how do we bring up the subject with our other half without them thinking that we are making plans to cash in on our secret multimillion pound insurance policy?
So why bother
If you decide that making a Will is not worth bothering about. Consider the alternative. Dying without a Will is called dying intestate and as such the laws of intestacy apply, this will mean that your estate doesn’t necessary go to the beneficiaries you would like.
If you are married or in a civil partnership and have children, grandchildren or great grandchildren your spouse or partner will inherit assets including property up to £250,000 all of your personal possessions and half of anything remaining, If you don’t have children they will inherit the lot.
The thing is these rules are not negotiable so if you have not legally divorced or have legally ended your civil partnership your other half will still inherit under these rules, regardless of whether you want them to or not.
You can get more information about the rules of intestacy from the CAB.
Considering the way that many have decided to buy property and to live together has changed over the years you can see that there are certainly benefits in in making a Will. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your “common-law” spouse will inherit your estate, they have no legal standing in UK law
Creating a will does not have to cost the earth
Many of us might are put off creating a Will due to the perceived cost in having to have a solicitor or other professional draft our Will for us. The thing is if your estate is simple, then there is no reason why you can’t write your Will yourself. I would personally consider an estate to be simple if you only money in the bank, UK property and possessions. You might take a different view or everyone’s view is just that, their own.
If after thinking about it you still want to go ahead and write your own Will there are a number of online services worth considering. The Lawpack offer three levels of service the first costing £9.99 gives you’re a choice of Will templates, all lawyer approved. Their second costing £59.99 for a Single Will and £79.99 for a mirror Will (ideal for couples) is checked by a Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, professionally bound and sent to you. Their most expensive option is £129.99 and £179.99 for a mirror Will. This is written and checked by Irwin Mitchell, provides a helpline and is bound and sent to you on completion.
If doing a Will online is not something that you want to do you might also want to consider getting a Will kit from WHSmith or other legal stationers. There are some organisations such as the Stroke Society and Cancer Research that allow you to request a free Will pack.
REMEMBER – tell your loved ones where you have stored your Will.
The people in your your life change and your take on life changes. For this reason it is definitely worth reviewing your Will regularly, you might need to make changes. This makes writing your Will on the cheap an attractive option.
So what forms a legal Will
• For a Will to be legal you have to be an adult in the eyes of the law i.e. over 18.
• you must have wanted to make it and not been under duress
• it must be in writing, keeping it verbal just won’t do.
• Sign it in the presence of two witnessed and have them sign it. The witnesses cannot be beneficiaries, the spouse of a beneficiary or family members.
So what do you need to consider before making a Will?
One of the most important considerations is who is going to be who you want to administer your Will further to your wishes. Being an executor is a position of great responsibility, if anything goes wrong they could be held personally liable. It would be advisable to speak to anyone you want to take on this responsibility beforehand
Who is going to benefit from your estate. Also known as beneficiaries these are the people that you want your money, property or possessions to go to. They might be family, friends or charity.
If you have children under 18 who do you want looking after them. Failing to do this could mean that the courts appoint someone.
Would your estate exceed the threshold for Inheritance Tax. As at writing this is currently £325.000. If it would be, look at getting professional advice.
What about your debts?
Contrary to popular belief, your debts don’t die with you in all instances. If your estate is solvent, meaning that there is money to pay your debts your creditors will still expect payment. Therefore whether you have a Will not not they will always want to be paid back. Don’t think that your beneficiaries can just keep your estate either as your creditor might just come after them for the money that is owed.
If your estate is insolvent, meaning that there isn’t any money to pay your debts, your creditors might still want to see evidence of this from your next of kin, possibly in the form of bank statements at the date of your death together with your funeral account.
• Death can be a difficult thing to raise with your partner but do it as soon as possible,
• If you have a simple estate consider writing your Will yourself. Consider everything. Who do you want your estate to go to, who is going to look after your children your pets and what is going to happen about your debts and are you going to leave anything to charity
• Circumstances change, review and make changes when necessary
• Tell someone where you have stored your Will.