Why Everyone Needs a Will

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In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to put off important tasks, and writing a will is often one of them. However, having a will is crucial for ensuring your wishes are carried out after your death and providing peace of mind to your loved ones.  In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the importance of having a will, and the steps to take in order to secure your legacy.

The Significance of Having a Will

Why Do You Need a Will?

A will is a legal document that outlines how your estate, including your property, money, and possessions, should be distributed after your death. Even if you don’t consider yourself wealthy, having a will ensures that your wishes are respected, and your loved ones are taken care of. Without a will, your estate will be distributed according to the intestacy rules, which may not align with your desires.

Benefits of Writing a Will

Writing a will offers several benefits beyond determining the distribution of your assets. Firstly, if you live with a partner without being married or in a civil partnership, they won’t automatically inherit your estate without a will. Secondly, if you have children, a will allows you to nominate a legal guardian who will care for them in the event of your passing. Additionally, a will enables you to express your funeral wishes and can help mitigate inheritance tax.

Consequences of Dying Without a Will

Dying without a will, also known as dying intestate, can lead to complications and unintended consequences. The rules of intestacy determine how your estate will be distributed, and these rules may not align with your preferences. For example, if you have a spouse and children, your spouse may only receive a portion of your estate, with the remainder divided among your children. In some cases, if you have no surviving relatives, your estate may be claimed by the Crown.

The Will-Writing Process

Gathering Information

Before your appointment, it’s helpful to gather relevant information that will assist in the will-writing process. This includes details about your assets, such as property, savings, investments, and valuable possessions. You should also consider any debts or liabilities, such as mortgages or loans. Additionally, think about who you would like to appoint as the executor of your will, the person responsible for carrying out your wishes.

Consultation with a Solicitor

During your appointment, the solicitor will guide you through the will-writing process. They will ask you a series of questions to understand your wishes and ensure your will accurately reflects your intentions. The solicitor will provide advice on legal matters, including inheritance tax implications and any specific considerations based on your unique circumstances. After the consultation, the solicitor will draft your will.

Review and Signing

Once the solicitor drafts your will, they will provide you with an opportunity to review it thoroughly. It’s crucial to carefully read through the document to ensure all your wishes are accurately represented. If any changes or adjustments are necessary, discuss them with the solicitor. Once you are satisfied with the final version, you will sign the will in the presence of witnesses, who will also sign to validate the document.

Planning Beyond a Will

Power of Attorney

While a will is an essential component of estate planning, it’s also important to consider other aspects of protecting your interests and wishes. One such measure is establishing a lasting power of attorney. This legal document allows you to appoint a trusted individual to make financial and personal decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. By appointing someone you trust as your attorney, you can have peace of mind knowing that your affairs will be handled according to your wishes.

Periodic Review and Updates

Creating a will is not a one-time task; it requires periodic review and updates. Life circumstances change, and it’s essential to ensure that your will accurately reflects your current wishes and circumstances. Significant events such as marriage, divorce, birth, or death in the family may necessitate modifications to your will. It’s advisable to review your will regularly and consult with a solicitor to make any necessary updates to ensure your legacy is preserved.

Writing a will is a crucial step in securing your legacy and ensuring your wishes are respected, you not only protect your loved ones but also have the chance to leave a lasting impact by supporting charitable causes.

Here to Help

If you wish to discuss a will, or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Richard Horwood, Partner and Head of Private Client, or any member of the Private Client team who deal with the preparation of Wills.

Please note the contents of this article are given for information only and must not be relied upon. Legal advice should always be sought in relation to specific circumstances.