If you don’t make a Will, the intestacy rules decide who gets what.
• Your spouse may not get everything.
• If you have a partner, but you’re not married, your partner will not get anything.
• A relative that you’ve not seen for many years (or don’t like) may stand to benefit from your estate!
• View my intestacy flow-chart to see what would happen if you died without a Will.
Choose your Executors
Being an executor isn’t an easy job – great responsibility and no pay.
• Without a Will certain people have a right to administer your estate – they may not wish to do it, or worse, not be competent in carrying out the work.
• Appointing executors gives you the certainty that someone you trust will carry out your wishes.
Choose your trustees
Assets for under 18s are held in trust, your trustee/s looks after it for them until then.
• You can choose who you would want to control the money held in trust for your child.
• By choosing trustees carefully, you can protect your child’s inheritance and make life easier for your guardian/s.
• The powers of your trustees can be altered and amended to cater for your specific circumstances.
If something happens to you, you need to appoint guardian/s to be responsible for your children under 18.
• Your family will know what you wanted and a court won't need to be involved.
• You can appoint a reserve guardian/s, in case your first choice is unable/unwilling to act.
• You can make financial provision for your guardians - to help them cope with the increased financial burden.
Decide when your children inherit
Ordinarily, a child will inherit at the age of 18.
• Is this too young, would you defer it to a later age?
• You can specify any age between 18-25 without tax implications.
• They can still access the money – they just need approval from the trustees.
Use a trust to ring fence your assets
When you leave an outright gift to someone in your Will, you have no control over what they do with it.
• Your spouse or partner could remarry or change their Will – diverting your estate away from your children.
• If you own a home, and you leave it to your spouse/partner it could end up paying their creditors or for their care fees in later life.
When you really need a Will, it's too late - especially if you are a couple
Death can seem a long way off, so making a Will is easy to put off for another day.
• You need to have ‘testamentary capacity’ (which covers your mental capacity) to make a Will. If it’s in doubt, making a Will becomes far more complicated.
• As a couple (whether married or unmarried) there are significantly more opportunities to protect your assets and avoid inheritance tax – many of these options disappear when one of you dies.
Save your family time, hassle & money
Even the most harmonious family can be pulled-apart by money and grief.
• Making a Will is like leaving a set of instructions, so that your wishes are clear.
• Finding a Will after your death usually brings relief to your family at a difficult time.
• It’s easier to administer an estate with a Will, it will save your family time. Depending on its contents – it can save them money.
Don't leave it to someone who 'knows what you would want'
Do you think someone else will carry out your wishes?
• There is nothing definite in expecting someone to make gifts in-line with what you'd have wanted.
• There is no obligation for them to do this and these assets could end up being used for something else.
• Even If they were minded to, they may no longer have the mental or physical capacity to carry out your wishes.