A Will is something most people agree is a good idea, but getting round to it can take a while. The business of being alive takes up rather a lot of time and thinking about death can languish near the bottom of one’s “to do” list for an aeon. It’s not always easy to convince anyone to speed up – people come to it according to their temperament or prompted by some life event or change of circumstances. If you like good reasons however, a Will helps you:
- Leave your affairs clear for family, friends and other beneficiaries. This can save arguments and be a comfort to those left coming to terms with your death. You also appoint the people you choose to look after your affairs (called Executors).
- Give money, property or other gifts to the people you love and care about.
- Appoint guardians for your children if they are below aged 18.
- Save on inheritance tax. An estate over the current size of £325k may be subject to inheritance tax at 40%, depending on who you leave your property to. A good Will makes use of the available tax free amounts.
- Support the future growth of your favourite charity. Its a chance to make the biggest gift to charity you may ever give and its tax free.
- Ensure your property doesn’t get handed on against your will. The law of intestacy (which takes effect when you don’t leave a Will) can be complex and is not guaranteed to achieve the result you would have wished. For example, an unmarried partner has no automatic right to receive your property under the laws of intestacy.
- Sort out some of your affairs now with estate planning and asset protection. Writing a Will might also encourage you to save tax by giving things away now; or it may encourage you to be more organised; or maybe you will decide to take your loved ones on a nice holiday!
- Think about how you want your personal effects to be dealt with.
- Connect with what is important to you. There is also a strong emotional aspect to writing a Will as it inevitably requires us to consider the prospect that one day we will die. Hard as this is, getting clear on practical matters is likely to have a positive emotional effect.