It may surprise you to know that everyone has a will. The Government has a provision in place for everyone’s estate to pass according to the rules of intestacy. Unless you change this, your estate will pass in accordance with these rules and this may not reflect your wishes.
This default position can be changed very easily. However, an alarming number of people do not have their own personal will- many people see this as unnecessary or something they will do when they get older.
Old age is not a prerequisite to making a will – if you have assets, e.g. a house, savings, business, and or people you would like to look after then you need to consider making a will. Dying intestate, regardless of your age, can create a number of issues for your loved ones that you may not have considered.
Without a valid will in place, those who you may have wished to benefit from your estate may suffer if assets are passed to estranged family members or ex-spouses who could be entitled to inherit from your estate.
For those who have no relatives, unless long lost relatives can be traced, their estate will be passed to the government. This legacy could have been left to friends or charity if a will had been written.
The main reasons for making your will are as follows:
- Children and Guardianship: if you are responsible for children under the age of 18, you will need to decide who will look after them and also ensure there is enough money available to look after them.
- Unmarried partners: Many people believe that law protects those who have been together for a number of years as “common law” spouses. There is no truth in this myth and for those who are unmarried but wish to pass assets to each other – a will is a necessity as without this in place, you must assume that your partner is unlikely to inherit your estate.
- Divorce: The law generally treats divorced couple as having been deceased with regard to provision in existing wills. If your ex-spouse gets remarried however, you may wish to review your circumstances to ensure your assets are protected for those who you wish to look after.
- Property: If you own your property as a joint tenant then your share of the property will automatically pass to the other joint tenant (s) without the need for a will. However, this is not always the desired outcome and can result in circumstances that may make your assets vulnerable to outside influences.
If you own your property as tenants in common – this means your share of the property will be dealt with by your will and you will therefore need to decide what will happen to this. This share will not necessarily automatically pass to the other owner.
- Foreign Property: If you own property in another country you will need to make a will in that country that does not cancel out any provision you have in the UK. If you do not make a will for foreign property – your property may be subject to the rules of intestacy in that country- which is often not the outcome desired.
- Business owners: If you do not make provision in your will for your business to be continued in the event of your death, your business will need to be ended. This may be the main source of income for your loved ones and so it is important if you wish for them to be protected that you make provision for your business to be dealt with accordingly by your will.
It is highly unlikely that your circumstances will remain the same throughout your life and as such, you must ensure that your review your will every time there is significant change such as a birth, death or marriage, if you receive a significant sum of money in your own estate through inheritance or otherwise or if you start up a new business or buy a house.
If you are concerned about any of the issues outlined above with regard to your assets and your will, call Hexagon Life Planning Services on 0800 610 1131 or firstname.lastname@example.org today to arrange your free appointment. Your local estate planning consultant will arrange a convenient time to visit you in your home and will provide you with advice tailored to your own personal circumstances.