The importance of making a will
7th Sep 2017
Last Friday Radio Norfolk covered the importance of making a Will during their weekly finance slot with Adam Aitken on the Chrissy Jackson show. I went along to give expert advice on making a Will and to provide information about how best you can provide for your family following your death.
During the discussions it became apparent that whilst most adults understand the need for a Will around 53% of the adults in the UK do not currently have a Will.
During the show the important questions of why having a Will is so important and what the effects could be if you die without a Will in place were discussed.
What can I cover in my Will?
Preparing a Will means that you can name those that you wish to deal with your estate (your executors) upon your death. You are also able to detail any funeral wishes that you may have which will provide assistance to your loved ones at an emotional time.
If you have minor children you are also able to name guardians to look after them and it is possible to make gifts of individual items or sums of money to your loved ones, friends, neighbours or charities.
Ultimately preparing a Will means that your wishes are followed after your death and you can name who you wish to benefit from your estate.
What happens to an estate if there is a Will?
If you have a Will in place upon your death your executors are able to begin to deal with administering your estate. The Will is the evidence that they are entitled to deal with your assets and liabilities and they are able to communicate with the relevant financial institutions.
Should a Grant of Probate be required to administer your estate your executors are entitled to take this out and this will allow them to collect in monies held in banks, sell or transfer shares and sell your property.
A Grant of Probate is not always needed and it is worth seeking legal advice at the outset to find out how you can administer the estate correctly.
What are the risks of not having a Will in place?
If you do not have a Will in place you are unable to state who you wish to benefit from your estate upon your death. Your estate will be dealt with by intestacy and this may mean that certain relatives, in some instances people you have never met, will benefit from your estate.
One of the examples that was explored during the show was a recent case example that I have been dealing with whereby I am assisting an unmarried couple. The couple have been partners for a long period of time but have not chosen to marry. They do not have Wills in place and upon one of the partners getting seriously ill this discussion has taken place. I have advised that should the seriously ill partner die now his estate would pass via intestacy. Looking into his family and the rules of intestacy his estate will either pass to relatives that he has no knowledge of and which would take a genealogy expert to trace or in the absence of any family member being found passed to the Crown.
If this is left unresolved during lifetime then his partner would be unprovided for by intestacy despite their lengthy relationship and all of their wishes to benefit each other.
There is a common misconception of common law spouses which has no binding legal effect upon your death and the only way to ensure you provide for an unmarried partner immediately upon your death is by putting in place a Will.
It is possible in some circumstances for a surviving partner to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. We have a specialist team who can advise on Inheritance and Trust Claims – you can contact Peter Hastings at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01603 675639
When should I review my Will?
It is always worth reviewing your Will if your circumstances or the circumstances of one of your beneficiaries changes.
Some of the key factors to consider are marriage, divorce, and birth of children, a change in your financial position or a change in the inheritance tax position.
In any event we would always advise that you check your Will every five years to check you are happy with its current content.
If you have any concerns that your Will is not what you want or does not apply to your current position it is best to telephone and speak with a legal advisor so that they can talk you through the matter.
During the show there were also some listeners who called in to ask very relevant and commonly asked questions.
What if I or one of my beneficiaries has changed address since the Will was made?
People do move address and it is not necessary to update your Will each time someone named within the Will moves. It is however helpful to keep a note of their new address with the copy of your Will at home and periodically update the solicitor’s office that holds your Will so that they have a record.
How will I know if a loved one has made a Will?
Upon making a Will we would always suggest that you tell your executors you have made a Will and where a copy of that Will can be found. It can be helpful to give your executors the contact details of the office or person that you have been dealing with so that they can make contact with them upon your death.
It is also possible to register your Will on a national database Certainty to which Rogers & Norton subscribe.
You can listen to the full discussion on Radio Norfolk here:
If you have any queries or issues about making a Will, or wish to review the one you currently have in place, then you can contact me at email@example.com or on 01603 675645 or Wenke Lie-Critchley in our Attleborough office at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01953 458162