If you’ve been putting off making a Will, now might be the right time to put it back on your to-do list. Throughout November, Will Aid is helping thousands of people to get their Wills written professionally, while also contributing to several charitable causes.
According to research from Royal London published in 2018, 54% of UK adults haven’t made a Will, and a worryingly high 5.4 million people in the UK don’t know how to go about making one. There are several reasons most people give for not making a Will. Procrastination is the most common reason, with lots planning to make one ‘when they get older’. A large proportion of people without a Will simply seem to believe that they don’t need to make one – either because they feel they have very little value to leave behind or they are confident their estate would end up where they intended it to without one. But this may prove to be a mistake.
What does a Will do?
Your Will gives you the opportunity to clearly state your wishes about what should happen to your money, your possessions, and your property after you die. It also allows you to name the person or people you want to be in charge of organising your estate after your death (called your ‘executor’), and lets you give them specific instructions on how to carry out your wishes. This could be anything from appointing legal guardians for your children, making gifts of your possessions to family and friends, making arrangements for your pets, and your specific requests for your funeral.
Why is having a Will important?
Writing a Will puts the control over your wishes in your hands. But it also removes most of the complexity that comes with sorting out a person’s estate after their death, which is a particularly difficult and stressful period at the best of times. Knowing that you have a Will already in place can give you and your family peace of mind that the process of dealing with your estate has already been taken care of. And leaving a Will that states clearly who should get your possessions and your property when you die can prevent unnecessary distress for your loved ones after you’ve gone.
Providing clarity on your financial affairs
Writing a Will is particularly important for anyone who has children or other family members that depend on you financially, or if you would like to leave some of your possessions to people who are not considered part of your immediate family.
Writing a Will can also make your financial affairs clear to the taxman, and help reduce the amount of inheritance tax that could otherwise be payable on the value of the property and money you leave behind. For example, by specifying you are leaving the family home to your children or grandchildren, your estate can claim the main residence nil-rate band, which would allow it to benefit from up to an additional £175,000 in tax-free allowances in the 2020-2021 tax year.
Leaving a Will can also be tremendously important in more complicated family circumstances. For example, you can use a Will to provide a ‘Life Interest’ – which can prevent unpleasant and expensive legal battles between your loved ones after your death. Creating a Life Interest is particularly important for people who have divorced and have children from their first marriage. With a Life Interest, the deceased can make sure their new partner is legally entitled to stay in their home while ensuring it will be passed on to the children as part of their inheritance.
What happens if you don’t write a Will?
If you die without leaving a valid Will, this is called ‘intestacy’ or ‘dying intestate’. This means that if you live in England or Wales (the rules are different in Scotland), everything you own will be shared out under standard intestacy rules. In other words, the law gets to make the decisions on who gets what from your estate. Here are some of the most common problems that can arise from letting the law decide:
- If you’re married, your husband or wife can inherit all of your estate even if you were separated at the time of your death. Your children might not get anything.
- If you’re unmarried, and not in a civil partnership, your partner will not be legally entitled to anything when you die, no matter how long you were together.
- If there is inheritance tax due on your estate, it could be significantly higher than necessary.
- If you have children or grandchildren, the amount they are entitled to may depend on where you live in the UK.
- If you die with no living close relatives, thanks to a law called bona vacantia, your entire estate could be handed to the Crown.
Stop putting it off
Some people worry about the costs involved with writing a Will, but in most cases it is not as expensive as you might think. And in November, you can arrange to have your Will written through Will Aid and make a charitable donation to several good causes at the same time.
What is Will Aid?
Will Aid is a partnership set up between the legal profession and nine of the UK’s best-loved charities. Since 1988, it has enabled helped raise more than £21 million for good causes, while ensuring that more people in the UK get peace of mind from having their Will professionally written. More than 500 solicitor firms nationwide took part in Will Aid last November, raising over £900,000 for charities working with some of the most vulnerable people in the UK and around the world.
How does Will Aid work?
Solicitors who are taking part in Will Aid will draw up a basic Will for clients without charging their usual fee. Instead, clients are invited to make a voluntary donation. The suggested donation is £100 for a single Will or £180 for couples. The donations are then given to nine of the UK’s biggest charities, including the NSPCC, Save The Children, Age UK, British Red Cross, and more.
Over the years, Will Aid has helped more than 300,000 people to put their financial affairs in order, make their last wishes known, and give them and their families peace of mind. If you would like to have your Will written through Will Aid, you can find your nearest participating solicitor and book an appointment on the Will Aid website.