Wills - rarely too early, but it can be too late!
A guest blog from Iain Wanstall, Consultant at Mills Keeps Ltd, Solicitors Remember A Charity Week reminds us all how important gifts in Wills are for charities. Yet, despite increased media coverage and awareness campaigns outlining the importance, and benefits, of making a Will, more than half the adults in the UK still don't have one. I have been advising clients on Wills for over 20 years and in that time I've heard various reasons why people put off writing Wills. This is often despite them knowing how important a Will is to provide for their loved ones, friends or favourite charities after they have died. Many of the reasons are understandable, but are not necessarily based on accurate facts. They can, and unfortunately often do, result in unintended issues, problems and stress for those left behind, which could easily have been avoided by a well drafted Will. A couple of the common reasons include: I don't need a Will as everything I own will pass to my other half anyway Although this can be the case, it's often not what actually happens. If you don't have a valid Will, the law dictates what happens to your assets when you die. This can result in your estate (such as your home, savings, other investments, cars and other belongings) not passing to your family, friends or charities you want to benefit. It may also result in your assets passing to people you had absolutely no intention, or wish, to benefit, such as estranged family members. Without a Will, what happens to your estate will depend on a number of factors such as:
- whether you have children - even if you're no longer in contact with them, for whatever reason;
- if you are married or in a civil partnership - many people are not aware that a Will is cancelled on marriage or entering into a civil partnership unless it has been drafted correctly;
- if you are separated but not divorced, or had your civil partnership dissolved - you will still be treated as being married or in a civil partnership;
- if you are in a long-term relationship, but are not married or civil partners - there is a strong risk, under the current law, that your wishes will not be followed if you do not have a Will; and
- the type, and value, or your assets, and how you own them, such as your home