Drawing up a will is the only way to ensure your assets are distributed according to your final wishes. If that wasn’t reason enough, here campaign director for Will Aid Peter de Vena Franks gives you the top ten purposes of this piece of paperwork.
This month provides a golden opportunity to protect the people you love the most.
It’s Will Aid Month – a will-writing drive held every November.
During those four weeks we work with law firms across the country who pledge a portion of their time to write basic wills in exchange for a donation for charity.
The scheme supports nine of the UK’s best-loved charities and has raised more than £17 million since it launched more than 25 years ago.
What’s stopping you?
Almost 20% of people who haven’t written a will have failed to do so simply because they don’t want to think about dying.
But making a will is not about planning for death.
It is more about securing peace of mind and knowing that your affairs are in order.
Some clients renew their wills annually to ensure that they are up to date and for them it is just like renewing their car insurance.
With Will Aid you can update an existing will or make a new one.
Top ten reasons to get on with it
- You have children
According to our new statistics 53% of people with children under the age of 18 have no will.
But if a parent of a child dies and there is no one else with parental responsibility for that child, the courts decide who is to care for them.
A will provides the best way for a parent or parents to leave instructions about who they would like their child to be cared for in the event of their death.
It is a legal document made in writing, signed and dated and in the same paperwork you can ensure your estate passes in accordance with your wishes and appoint trustees to handle inheritance you leave your children.
- You want to be specific
A will allows you to make arrangements for your family or dependents, gift personal assets to the right person, make gifts to your favourite charity or other deserving causes, and even plan for your pets.
Along with your will, you can include a letter of wishes to provide posthumous guidance to executors, trustees and family members.
In many cases, a letter of wishes will become the most important tool in assisting your executors and trustees in reaching practical early decisions in line with your specific wishes – particularly when working out your funeral arrangements.
- You can make sure your wishes are fulfilled
A will allows you to appoint an executor or two. These people should be the most capable and trusted of people you know. It is their job to administer your estate and carry out your wishes. Your executor could be your spouse or partner, your solicitor or whoever else you trust.
- You want to reduce inheritance tax
The current inheritance tax threshold is £325,000 per person (£650,000 per married couple) meaning that if your estate exceeds this figure the excess is very likely to be taxed at 40%.
Any property that passes to your spouse or to charity usually passes tax free.
Making a will can help you reduce inheritance tax. It can also help you to consider who should pay the tax to prevent important family assets having to be sold to fund payment.
- You want to avoid intestacy
Intestacy is the condition of the estate of a person who dies without having made a valid will or other binding declaration. If you make a will, you make sure your assets go to the person or people you want them to go to. If you die intestate, the person who inherits might not be the person you would pick.
- You live with someone but are not married
Three years ago a survey showed that 58% of the general public thought there was some form of common-law marriage that gave cohabitees rights similar to those enjoyed by husbands and wives. They don’t.
If you have been living with someone to whom you are not married, they would not have an automatic right to inherit any of your property unless you make a will or hold the property jointly.
- You want to explain your decisions
A letter of wishes is often included with a will and can be key to managing family expectations, wealth, the family business, and general family dynamics.
It can provide you with the opportunity to explain, in your own words, why you have made certain decisions in your will.
Your family situation may not be straightforward for example.
You might have been married more than once, have children from multiple relationships or run a family business which needs succession planning.
A letter of wishes gives you the opportunity to explain why you have provided for certain beneficiaries or why once person has been awarded more than another.
It is also a chance to leave certain items to specific people – recognising the sentimental attachment and giving you a chance to explain why you are passing it on.
- You have vulnerable beneficiaries
A will is a chance to protect people who may be vulnerable due to physical or mental disability. It is possible when making your will to provide a Trust for more vulnerable beneficiaries to protect them in the future. This may come outside the costs of the basic will provided through Will Aid but can be added in for an extra fee and is well-worth considering.
- You want to control when your child inherits
By making a will you can also decide at which age your children should inherit potentially large sums of money. In the will you can allow your wealth to be held ‘in trust’ for your child until he or she turns 16, 18, 21 or older.
- You need peace of mind
A will protects those you love in the event that the worst happens. It also allows you to lay out your wishes for the division of your estate and gives you the opportunity to be specific about your funeral plans. Preparing a will is guaranteed to bring with it peace of mind. You can tick it off your to-do list and forget all about it knowing that if anything happens to you your wishes will be carried out.
Will Aid can help
To avoid the added stress on families during an already emotional time, it may be wise to meet with an estate planning lawyer to help you draw up a basic estate plan at the minimum, before it’s too late.
You can do this in November with Will Aid.
We still have a few appointments left. Simply put in your postcode and find a lawyer near you who can help.
Find a Will Aid solicitor near you: http://bit.ly/findasolicitor