It is estimated that 60% of the adult population of the UK have not written a Will, leaving their estate to be dealt with by the standard Government intestacy rules. This can be time consuming and distressing for a family member or loved one to take on, especially at a time of heightened emotion.
A Will is a legal document that controls what happens to someone’s estate on their death by setting out a person’s specific wishes. Gifts of money can be left to loved ones and friends as well as specific items such as jewellery or family heirlooms. They are also a good opportunity to appoint guardians for any young children. There are several points to consider when writing a Will, such as:
Who will you appoint as your executors and in some cases, trustees? Would a professional appointment perhaps be most suitable?
- Who do you wish to benefit from your estate?
- Who will look after any children that are minors?
- How can your estate be administered in the most tax-efficient way?
- Potential tax liabilities; namely inheritance tax and capital gains tax, overseas assets.
- Has your Will been signed and witnessed in the correct way? If not, it may be that your Will is invalid and the intestacy rules will apply.
- What is your marital status? The rules of intestacy can be harsh on cohabitees, and there is no direct right for cohabitees to inherit from their partner’s estate. This may also affect your position with regard to inheritance tax.
Whilst writing a Will can seem like a daunting task, solicitors are able to provide information and guidance in relation to writing a Will. Advice can include efficient inheritance tax planning to ensure that the maximum benefits are received by an estate. Tax matters can be tricky to understand, especially in relation to the administration of an estate, and using a solicitor or other qualified lawyer can help to give impartial advice to best achieve your wishes.
It is important to note that all solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, who ensures that a high standard of practice is observed in order to protect the public’s interest. Ultimately, ensuring that you have taken the best advice from a specialist could save time, money and confusion in the long run.
Executors – the people appointed to administer an estate on death, by ensuring that the deceased’s wishes (according to their Will) are carried out.
Intestate – when a person dies without a Will, without a legally valid Will or where a Will may not necessarily cover the whole of someone’s estate.
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.