Around 65% of under-55s in the UK don’t have a Will. It’s vitally important to have one so you decide who inherits your property upon your death. Having a Will provides security and peace of mind and lets you make provision for your loved ones.
Dying without a Will is known as dying Intestate. When this happens, the property (also known as the deceased’s ‘estate’) must, by law, be shared out according to certain rules, which are known as the rules of intestacy. The rules of intestacy mean that only married or civil partners, and a small number of other close relatives, can inherit the deceased person’s property.
When someone makes a Will, but it’s not legally valid, this is also handled under the rules of intestacy. This is why it’s important to use a reputable Will writing company or solicitor to make your way – especially with more complex estates or wishes.
Dying without a Will means the law decides how the estate is shared out, which may not reflect the wishes of the person who’s died. By having a valid Will, your estate is shared out as you want it to be.
Having a Will means:
- You decide who inherits your ‘property.’ Property may mean physical buildings, cash in the bank, valuables, investments or personal items. You also may decide to leave some specific gifts to named individuals. Without a Will, the law decides who inherits your estate, and this may not be to who you want
- You give security to your spouse or partner and avoid issues with co-ownership. Unmarried partners and stepchildren have no rights under intestacy rules, so while you may want to make provision for them, if you don’t have a Will, they’re likely to receive nothing from your estate
- You can include a trust in your Will. This means assets are protected and you can include an age that younger children must reach before they inherit the assets – meaning they don’t inherit too much at a young age
- Your estate can avoid unnecessary Inheritance Tax. This is done by using exemptions and reliefs. The standard Inheritance Tax rate is 40%. It’s only charged on the part of your estate that’s above the Inheritance Tax threshold
o Until 5th April 2028, the Inheritance Tax threshold is £325,000. This means that for any estate over the value of £325,000, the estate may be liable to taxation of 40%, which gets paid to His Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (‘HMRC’)
- Your can appoint executors who are capable of handling your wishes. Executors are also able to speak to banks and insurance companies and can secure your property and possessions.
- You can make provision for half siblings as well as full blood siblings. Under the rules of intestacy, full blood siblings take priority over half siblings
- By having a Will, you can reduce family conflict. Making a Will means your wishes are known and your executors disperse your assets as you want them to. By dying intestate, this may cause conflict and result in legal claims and battles that can become very expensive
When should I update my Will?
You should update your Will any time you have a significant change in personal circumstances. Some of the reasons to review your Will are below.
- You’ve got married/separated/divorced/you’re now living with a partner
- You’ve had children or more children than named in your existing Will
- You have stepchildren you’d like to make provision for
- You now own a business or a share in a business
- You now own property abroad
- Your financial circumstances have changed significantly since you wrote your last Will
- You’ve sold or given away an item specified as a gift in your existing Will
- You’ve changed your mind about your beneficiaries/guardians of your children/executors/trustees
- A named beneficiary has died or they’re vulnerable because of their age, health or a disability
- You want to make a Trust for grandchildren
How much does a Will cost?
For years, Will writing has been a tedious and expensive process and often meant that people had to meet with their solicitor on multiple occasions to draft, review and sign their Wills. The process has been simplified and there are now options that are available online. One of these is Farewill, a company that’s been voted National Will Writing Firm three years in a row.
Farewill offers a Will writing service from the comfort of your own home and the process is easy, friendly and cheaper than more traditional Will writing services. Online Wills for individuals are priced at £90 and £140 for couples. Farewill also offer a telephone Will writing service from £240 for an individual and £380 for couples. The telephone service is suitable for more complex Wills and wishes.
The online service can be completed in three easy steps:
- The website takes the user through a series of questions. These take about 15 minutes to answer
- Once all the questions are answered, a draft Will is produced and this is passed to Farewill’s expert Will writers for review
- Once it’s been checked, the user can print and sign the Will. To make it legally binding, it must be signed in front of two witnesses, who must also sign and date it.
What’s a Power of Attorney?
Having a Lasting Power of Attorney (‘LPA’) is as important as making a Will. An LPA means you can appoint people that you trust to act on your behalf in the event that you become unable to do so – for example through illness or because of an accident.
Spouses and relatives can’t automatically act on your behalf, so it’s important to have an LPA in place. There are two types of LPA and it’s recommended that you have both:
- Property and financial affairs – which covers paying the bills, access to your bank account, paying for care or treatment, pensions, investments and buying, selling or maintaining your property
- Health and welfare – this covers care, treatment, your personal wishes and end of life decisions
What happens if I don’t have a Lasting Power of Attorney?
If you don’t have an LPA, permission to act on your behalf will need to be obtained from the Court of Protection. This can take several months and be very expensive. Not having an LPA also means that your family will not be able to assist you in the interim and they may be liable for the costs of your medical and care costs.
How much does a Lasting Power of Attorney cost?
LPAs are also available online through companies such as JAM Estate Planning Services. Prices for online LPAs are £70 for an individual and £140 for couples. There is also an additional administration fee of £82 per LPA which will needs to be paid to the Office of Public Guardian.
In summary, writing a Will and an LPA has become a much simpler, cheaper and quicker process in recent years with the introduction of online services. There are lots of reputable companies who provide the service which means your wishes can be carried out. By having a Will you can protect your loved ones and have your estate shared as you’d like it, while avoiding creating a family conflict which can happen if you die intestate.
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