Five reasons why you should make a will

Many people believe that Wills are the preserve of the wealthy and question the importance of having a Will if they do not have significant amounts of money to leave to their family. However, there are numerous reasons why having a Will is important and here, we share five reasons why everybody should have one in place.

  • You decide who should benefit from your estate

If you do not have a Will in place then your estate (i.e. the assets that you own) will be distributed in accordance with the ‘intestacy rules’. These rules set out a specific order in which people should benefit from your estate. The effect of these rules may be that your assets are gifted to somebody that you would not wish to benefit from your estate. By having a Will in place, you can avoid the intestacy rules and choose the people who you would want to receive your assets.

In addition, the intestacy rules do not provide for the making of gifts to charitable organisations. If you want to leave a legacy to a charity, it is important to have a Will in place to make this gift.

  • Protect unmarried partners

If you are in a long-term relationship with your partner but are unmarried, your partner will not automatically benefit from your estate on your death under the intestacy rules. You can ensure that your partner benefits from your estate by having a Will in place.

  • Appoint a Guardian for your children

Within your Will you can choose who should look after your children in the event that you, and anybody else with parental responsibility, were to die before they reached the age of 18. These people are called ‘Guardians’. A common but mistakenly held belief is that godparents would be legally required to look after your children in this situation. Whilst you may have chosen godparents to look after your children, their appointment is not legally-binding.

  • Provide for your children where you have remarried

If you do not have a Will in place, your spouse will inherit the first £270,000 of your estate and half of the remainder thereafter if your estate exceeds that amount. Those assets would then belong to your spouse and form part of their estate; your spouse would be free to choose who they wish to leave their estate to and may decide to leave nothing to your children from a previous marriage. A Will can therefore provide you with peace of mind in ensuring that your children will benefit from your estate in the future.

  • Marriage and divorce

Marriage will automatically revoke your existing Will (unless your Will contains a ‘revocation of marriage clause’). Your estate would then be administered in accordance with the intestacy rules. It is therefore important to update your Will after marriage to ensure that it continues to reflect your wishes.

Divorce will not automatically revoke your Will but your ex-spouse will be treated as if they had pre-deceased you for the purposes of any gifts to them, unless your Will contains a contrary intention. It is therefore crucial to review your Will after divorce and update it where necessary to ensure that your estate is distributed in accordance with your wishes.

Hopefully this blog has helped explain the important impact a Will can have aside from distributing the assets of those with wealth. Whilst we have looked at five important reasons for having a Will in place, there are many more key reasons why a Will can be pivotal in providing for your friends and family.

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