According to research carried out by the Law Society last month, 73% of 16-54 year olds do not have a will. Whereas 64% of those over age 55 have made their final wishes clear in a will. Other surveys have generated different results and shown that these figures can be higher.
So, what’s the reason? Do people understand the implications of dying intestate? Do they think making a will doesn’t concern them as they are young? Or do they think they have insufficient assets for it to be a problem? Whatever the reason, there are a number of factors which ought to be considered when making a will and here’s a reminder of some of these.
(i) Ensure the right people benefit
It appears that many people believe that should they die without making a will their assets will just pass to their family. Changes to the intestacy rules as of 1 October 2014, mean that in cases where someone is survived by a spouse but no children, the surviving spouse will benefit from the entire estate. While this may achieve the desired outcome in many cases, what if you would like your extended family to benefit from certain assets? The only way to ensure your personal belongings and other assets are given to your chosen beneficiaries is to make provision for this via your will.
(ii) Tax efficiency
Increases in property prices has meant that even more people are drawn into the inheritance tax net and this number is continuing to increase. Therefore, with house prices rising but a ‘frozen’ nil rate band at £325,000 until 2017/18, more people should consider their overall inheritance position and ensure their will is drafted in a tax efficient way which complies with current legislation. And, as legislation is subject to change, it is advisable to review your will regularly, say, every five years, to take account of such changes as well as cater for any changes in your personal circumstances.
(iii) Choose your executors
It is important to choose people you can trust to act as your executors as they will be responsible for paying any taxes due, applying for probate so they can collect together any assets to pass them on to your chosen beneficiaries as per your wishes.
(iv) Choosing legal guardians
If you have any minor children when you die, you should consider who will look after them until they are able to look after themselves. Deciding who you would like to look after your children can be difficult but the earlier this is considered and appropriate action taken, it’s one less thing to worry about should the worst happen. In addition, you may also wish to think about whether you need to make any financial provision for any young children. The will can also be used to stipulate how any assets should be invested and state when you would like the children to benefit.
(v) Deal with complex family relationships
Changes in modern society has given rise to more complex family situations – more people have children out of wedlock and divorce rates in the UK have risen substantially. In these cases, it is essential to include the necessary provisions in your will to cater for certain people and certain circumstances.
With such a large number of individuals not having made a will, a reminder of some these aspects should prompt more people to consider making a will and the benefits that can be achieved.
In my view – and having seen the consequences of not having a Will drawn up correctly – only a solicitor who is trained in such matters should be trusted to draw up your Will. I’m happy to introduce one specifically for your needs.