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A 2012 survey revealed that 58% of the UK adult population don’t have a will. In this article I outline the main reasons people give for not having a will, along with some pretty heavyweight arguments as to why they are poor excuses for not taking the important step of sorting out exactly what will happen to your estate if you should die.
The perception that a will can set you back thousands of pounds is common but totally misguided. In reality a will doesn’t have to cost you anything at all as this is something you can do by yourself, although that is not a course of action I would necessarily advise. This can be a complicated area and a little money spent on some professional legal advice is well worth it and not just for peace of mind. Consider the potential price of failing to make a will, and I’m not talking only in financial terms but also the emotional cost for those left behind who will be at the mercy of the laws of intestacy which will dictate who gets what.
If you are a parent, there is the additional thorny question of a legal guardian to appoint to care for your child if both parents were to die. Children’s bereavement charity, Winston’s Wish, estimate that 24,000 UK children each year lose a parent. Not having a will leaves them vulnerable to the horrible process of court battles, family disputes and even foster care. It’s really not a risk worth taking for the sake of a few hundred pounds.
According to the aforementioned survey, one in ten people believe that their estate will automatically go to the ‘right’ people when they die, even if they don’t make a will, but that is not necessarily the case. The laws laid done by the state regarding inheritance are very strict and will obviously vary from one country to the next. Did you know for example, that in the UK according to the laws of intestacy, where there are no children but parents or siblings are still alive, the deceased’s spouse or civil partner will only automatically receive the first £450,000 and personal possessions? Or that the first £250,000 of an estate will automatically pass to a spouse or civil partner, leaving nothing for children if the value of the estate is below that?
In addition, with second marriages becoming more and more common with the inevitable messiness of civil partners, ex-spouses, children and step children, you can’t afford to make any assumptions on who will inherit your estate. The only way to be absolutely certain that those who you want to inherit will get what you want them to is to have it written down in a will which is witnessed and easily accessible upon your demise.
Many people underestimate what their assets are worth. Even if the value of your estate is low you may still want to distribute personal items that have an emotional value for you or the beneficiary. There are also a number of personal reasons why it is important to make a will including making provision for the guardianship of your children as mentioned above, to indicate your funeral requirements or to leave money to a charity.
We all expect to live long and fruitful lives and few of us can predict exactly when we will die. Sadly, death will be unexpected and premature for some of us. None of us think it will be us who drops down dead from that heart attack, gets run over in that freak accident or succumbs to the horrors of cancer at an early age but the fact is that we are all at risk. The unpredictability of life is a convincing argument against putting off writing your will. Whatever your age, a will is a must if you don’t want to risk those you love being left behind with a tricky mess to untangle if you come to an untimely end.
The message is very simple, make a will and do it now. If you would like assistance, our will writing service could be the answer.
On Tuesday 24th May Infinity is hosting a seminar on estate planning and will writing for UK nationals by our partner Bob Cockerton. Please below for full details. If you would like to book a place please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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