The importance of making a will

Making a will is not a fun activity let’s be honest. I don’t think anyone could say it’s something they enjoy doing.

I remember when my parents were making theirs and talking to me about it. I remember being really upset and asking them to stop discussing it. I didn’t want to know. I didn’t want to think about it. 

My dad’s approach was, let’s discuss it and then we don’t have to talk about it again. He was absolutely right of course. It had to be done and once it was we could put it out of our minds. So, if you don’t yet have a will, perhaps it’s time to tick it off the list.

Why is a will important?

Wills are important for several reasons, here are a few things for you to think about:

To ensure your ex doesn’t automatically inherit

Your surviving spouse comes top of the list of beneficiaries if you leave no will. So, if your marriage has broken down but no divorce has been finalised, your surviving spouse (now your ‘ex’) might inherit the whole or a share of your estate if you do not have a will in place.

Don’t get caught out by this and assume if they are your ex that will be enough – that’s not how it will be seen legally.

To protect your unmarried life partner

If you live with someone but you are not married and not in a formal civil partnership, and you die without a will, your life partner has no automatic right to inherit anything from you.

If you have made a life with that person, that’s unlikely to be what you’d want to happen, so protect your partner by making a will.

To avoid paying more tax than necessary

Do you really want to give your money away in taxes? Inheritance tax kicks in at £325,000. That includes gifts you have made in the seven years before your death.

The fact is that if you own your own house, and have mortgage protection, endowment, or life policy, and you are contributing to a pension, you could well find that under intestacy, your estate may well pay inheritance tax on a considerable amount of what you leave behind. The inheritance tax gift lets parents and grandparents use their estate for living expenses while their heirs receive a bigger lump sum. The gift is also transferable if the recipient doesn’t want to use it on themselves. Appropriate planning can result in more than £5,000 for each deceased loved one so these gifts should be planned around. An inheritance tax gift is any type of bequest given by a living person to a designated person upon the owner’s death as part of their estate. If there are no known heirs, it may also provide for a family member or have intent stated that the money goes towards charity or other beneficiaries.

What your spouse or civil partner (not an unmarried partner) inherits from you is free from inheritance tax on your death, but in the longer term that is of no help to them/your estate. When he or she dies, the value will just make his or her estate even larger, meaning more tax will need to be paid!

To control who doesn’t receive your estate

If you die without a will while you are married, your estate passes to your spouse. If he or she remarries, then dies without their own will, his or her estate (which would include yours) would pass to his second wife or her second husband.

He or she might leave the estate to children (all from his or her first marriage to someone else). The remainder of your estate would be inherited by the children of someone you may have never met. Sounds bizarre, but it’s more common than you think.

To nominate who will look after any young children

This important issue cannot be covered entirely in your will, but it’s really important to write down your wishes. It’s a horrible thought, but it’s an important process to go through.

Ideally, you should consult with friends and relatives and obtain their acceptance of whatever decision seems best for your family. Your will remains the best place to record this.

If both parents were to die at the same time, the children could be brought up by someone the parents would consider unsuitable, or even taken into care. Try an picture that scenario – it’s unbearable isn’t it?

If you are an unmarried mother, you can appoint a guardian to your children by will. This is important because your children’s father does not necessarily have the legal powers of a parent nor become their guardian automatically, if they do not already have parental responsibility. Make sure you understand the implications of your personal situation.

Aren’t wills expensive?

In general, no. If you have a complicated estate worth a huge amount of money, then this may differ, as you will require a significant level of estate planning – that can be costly due to the complexities. However, the average person does not need to have a solicitor spend hours drawing up a will on their behalf. There are ways to have a will drawn up that doesn’t involve paying out lots of money in solicitors fees.

Can a will be done online?

With Guardian Angel making a will could not be easier. You simply create an account, which only takes a few minutes, complete everything online and then its verified by professionals and sent back to you, all for £90.

They are the fastest growing online will writer. The site is user friendly and the process is quick and hassle free. You can save yourself time and money, without compromising on professionalism.

The site guides you through the process of making a will. Its and easy step by step process which gives you more information as and when you need it.

Don’t worry about having to complete it all in one go, you can save it, reflect and come back to it. You might want to give more thought to some of the questions, and you might need to collect bits of information and discuss things with friends or relatives.

Just make sure you don’t leave it too long and you do actually finish it. 

Once submitted your will will be checked by experts so just wait to hear from them. You then need to print it, and sign in in front of two witnesses. Keep it in a safe place, but make sure a couple of the people closest to you know where that is.

What happens if you need to make changes?

Don’t panic! If you spot a mistake, or want to make a change you can do that easily from your online Will Dashboard. Just remember that if you make a change, you need to re-submit your will, otherwise it won’t be legally binding.

Have you made a will yet? Or is this something you are thinking about?

This is a collaborative post.

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