"Making a Will is the only to ensure you can provide for your loved ones in the way that you want."
Wills and future planning
According to various studies, between 60% and 70% of the UK population do not have a Will. We understand that not everybody wants to think about what will happen after they die and the thought of putting it down in writing can be upsetting.
However, writing a Will is the only way to ensure that those that you want to benefit from your personal assets after you have passed away are able to do so. It ensures that your wishes are set out clearly and you can choose who you want to deal with matters on your behalf. By not planning for the future, you could be leaving your family with extra work and hassle during what is already an emotionally charged time.
At NewLaw our main aim is to make you feel comfortable talking about these sensitive matters, to enable you to plan effectively for the future, and to give you the peace of mind that your family will have one less thing to worry about.
What is a Will?
A Will is a legal document that allows you to set out what you want to happen after you die. Even if you do not consider yourself to have many possessions or much money, it is still important to consider putting a Will in place for the following reasons:
In your Will, you appoint people to deal with your estate, who are known as Executors. It may be that your estate is simple to administer, but in some cases this can be quite complicated. You are able to choose the people you trust to make decisions, to act honestly and to distribute your money, belongings and property according to your wishes. If you do not prepare a Will, the law decides who will be responsible for doing this, which would usually fall to your closest relatives.
You retain control
If you do not prepare a Will, the Rules of Intestacy decide who benefits from your estate. It may be the case that this works out exactly as you would want it to if you did prepare a Will. However, it is more than likely that certain people would get more than you would have wanted, and other loved ones receive nothing at all.
If you have children under the age of 18, your Will allows you to appoint people to act as guardians, who will look after the welfare of your children until they reach adulthood.
Also, many people do not realise that although children under 18 are not able to inherit money outright, as soon as a person reaches 18 they will be entitled to recieve their inheritance. You may feel that this is too young an age to be receiving potentially a large sum of money; therefore in your Will you can specify an older age for them to inherit, when they might deal with it more sensibly, such as 21 or 25.
You can choose who looks after the money until the time that you want your children to inherit their estate. These people are called your Trustees.
By increasing the age your children inherit, you are not denying them access to their money, but it will be up to the Trustees to assess when it is suitable to release money for a purchase, and for how much.
Gifts to people or charities
You might want to leave specific items, such as family heirlooms that have passed down the generations, or jewellery, to certain people. The only way to ensure these gifts are made is by writing a Will.
Many people want to leave money to charity after their passing, which would not be guaranteed to happen unless you provided for this in your Will.
Many people think that if you are not married but are living with a partner as if you were a legally married couple, the surviving partner will be treated as if they are a spouse. This is not the case. If you are in a relationship with your partner and living together, your partner has no legal right to any of your belongings if you die, even if you are engaged. The only way to ensure your partner is allowed to continue to live in your property, or can afford to pay the bills and running costs of the house is by providing for them in a Will.
If you do not have a Will and you are living together, your partner will not automatically inherit your share of the property, this will pass to your family under the rules of intestacy. Your partner may find themselves in a position where they are forced out of the house either due to family pressure or due to the fact they are unable to afford to continue to live there.
A Will can be an effective way to reduce the amount of tax you have to pay if you have a sizeable estate. In this day and age, with house prices ever-increasing, more and more families are finding themselves in a position where their loved ones will have to pay inheritance tax after their days. We can advise you on the best way to structure your Will and your estate to try and minimise the amount of tax to be paid, and we will advise you on the full range of exemptions and reliefs that are available to you.
Protecting your assets
We live in a society where second marriages are common, and people are living longer than ever before. With this in mind, it is important to consider how you can protect the assets you have worked so hard for in the future.
If you have been married previously and have children from that marriage, you may not have considered if and how you are providing for them. You may have made a Will during your first marriage, or after you divorced leaving assets to your children so you think you are looking after them. However, many people do not realise that marriage revokes a Will, so if you have entered a second marriage, you no longer have a Will in place. This means that all your assets will pass under the Rules of Intestacy.
The Rules of Intestacy provide that if a person is married, unless the estate is very large, the spouse will inherit everything. The danger of this situation is if you pass away and your new spouse inherits everything, they could leave all of the assets to whomever they want to. This would leave you children from your first marriage at risk of not receiving anything.
You can avoid this situation arising by making a new Will on your second marriage and either making specific gifts to your children or by including a certain type of trust known as an Interest in Possession Trust within your Will. This will ensure that your children receive something as well as your spouse.
Protecting your assets – Care Fees
As people are living longer, people are becoming more concerned about whether they will need care in the future and how they are paying for it. You may worry that you will spend all of your money paying for the care of a spouse or partner and have nothing left to pass onto your children. If you are concerned about this, it is possible to include an Interest in Possession Trust in your Will to provide for your spouse or partner whilst ensuring that those assets pass to your children after your spouse or partner passes away.
Types of Will
There are several different types of Will you can consider. At NewLaw, we want to first find out about your situation and what you want to achieve by your Will. We can then advise you accordingly. The main types of Will we generally discuss are as follows:
This is the most straightforward Will which usually leaves most assets to one person and might include some specific gifts to family, friends or charity.
Discretionary Trust Will
You may wish to consider this as part of Inheritance Tax planning, or it could be you do not want to gift your assets outright to someone, for example they may be vulnerable and would rather add some protection by creating a trust. This type of trust provides for your Trustees to look after the money for people that you want to benefit. The Trustees then exercise their discretion when distributing any of the trust funds and can do this in accordance with any seperate directions that you have left.
Interest in Possession Trust
As mentioned previously, this is a useful trust that can be used to protect assets to ensure they reach your ultimate intended beneficiary, but allows a degree of flexibility so that another person such as your spouse can benefit from the assets during their lifetime.
Disabled Beneficiary Trust
If you are leaving assets to someone who is disabled it is absolutely essential you consider including this trust within your Will. If you leave assets to a disabled person outright, you may put them at risk of their means tested benefits or other support being stopped, or their inheritance being used up by paying for care. Depending on the type of disability they suffer, they may not have the ability to manage a large sum of money. By placing their inheritance into a trust, you are allowing the beneficiary access to the money but it will be managed prudently for their benefit by the Trustees.
Do I have to leave money to certain people?
You can choose who you would want to receive your assets and how much they receive in your Will, but you cannot be obliged to include someone you do not wish to.
However, the law sets out certain categories of people who may be able to apply to the Court to make a claim against your estate if they feel they should not have been excluded or if you did not provide sufficiently for them. This category includes such people as your spouse, ex-spouse, children and anyone who was dependant on you.
You cannot completely avoid this from happening, but it is important to explain why you have decided to prepare the Will in a certain way as this will be considered by the Court if a claim is brought. It is important you are as open and honest with us and tell us of any unusual family circumstances so that we can give you the best advice possible.
What happens if I do not prepare a Will?
If you do not prepare a Will your assets will pass under the Rules of Intestacy. These rules are set out in legislation as to who will inherit.
The order of priority is as follows:
How we prepare your Will
At NewLaw, we want to make the preparation of your Will as easy and stress free as possible. We are able to prepare your Will in a number of different ways:
To give you peace of mind, we always work on a fixed fee basis which means there will be no surprises. Once we have agreed the work we will carry out for you, we will inform you of our fees up front.
We are here to help, so please contact us today on 0333 003 1909
More About Us
Official NewLaw Feed