“I’m too young”, “It’s too complicated”, “I don’t want to think about dying”, “It’s expensive”.
The list of excuses for putting off writing a Will is endless. However, making a Will is not just about the money or possessions you have, but how you’d like these things to be distributed after you die and sometimes even about how you’d like to be remembered.
Without a Will, you, your family nor your friends, have control over how your money and possessions (known as your estate) are distributed after you die. Without a Will, your estate is shared out following the rules of intestacy, meaning that the law will decide how your estate is distributed. This may not be in line with your wishes and might not allow you to take care of everything that is important to you.
But there are more reasons behind why you should consider writing your Will now. Below, we detail our top five and provide guidance on how to get started.
Reasons to consider writing your Will NOW
- It will make life easier for your friends and family
By writing a Will you can detail who you’d like to be in control of your finances, (the people who will carry out your instructions are called your executor(s)) any personal wishes and instructions (like funeral details) as well as where and to whom you’d like your money and possessions to go to . By doing so you make the process much clearer and much less time consuming and stressful for friends and family, at a time when things mayalready be difficult and saddening for them.
- So that your legacy goes where you want it to
By writing a Will that gives clear instruction on where you want the contents of your estate to go you prevent your legacy being shared as it is defined by law (which might be against your wishes). If you have children or other dependents this is especially important as you may have specific instructions in relation to them that you’d want to be considered.
- Because the process is now simpler than ever
The rise of online Will services has meant that it’s now easier and more accessible to make a Will. There are also new ways of making wills emerging. For example ,during lockdown, many have turned to video conferencing as a means of communication, and, in line with social distancing measures, ministers have since agreed to the legal usage of this technology for recording Wills, as long as the sound and video quality is sufficient. This measure will come into play this September and remain so until 2022.
- To reduce the inheritance tax on the value of your property
Having a Will can sometimes help to reduce the tax payable on the value of your property. It is generally paid if a property is above £325,000, however if you opt to leave everything above that amount to a spouse, civil partner, charity or community sports club then there is no inheritance tax to pay on this.
- You favourite charity will miss your donation
During your lifetime, you or your loved ones may have supported, developed links to, or received help from charitable organisations that have left them close to your heart. These non-profits, like commercial organisations, require funds to keep going, and a gift in your Will could make all the difference to their future. If this is the case be sure to mention them in your Will, as without explicit written instruction, executors or family members are not obligated to provide future donations on your behalf. It’s also useful to know that by leaving a gift to charity in your Will, this won’t count towards the total taxable value of your estate.
A number of charities also offer free Wills If you are thinking of leaving a gift in your will to charity it could be a good way of getting yours written for free as well as supporting a charity you have links to.
Make this the year you take charge of your legacy and the mark you want to leave. If you’re not sure how to get started, below are our recommended steps to making a Will.
Before speaking to any professional Will adviser, there a few things you should do:
- Select your executor: this is the person or people who will deal with your estate in the event of your death. It’s wise to think about this person early to get their permission and avoid in delays in the process. You may want more than one executor in case for whatever reason your principal executor is unable to carry out your wishes.
- Calculate a rough value of what you own: this might include any property, savings, possessions, pensions and investments, as well as a rough idea of any ongoing or outstanding debts or payments you might have.
- Consider how you want your estate to be distributed, and when: while you might want to leave different amounts and possessions to different people, you also need to consider when you want these people to receive those amounts and possessions.
- Think about leaving a gift to charity: if you or someone you love have been supported by a charitable cause during your lifetime, think about whether you want to give and support them.
- Choose where to store your Will: this might be with a professional advisor, Her Majesty’s Court Service or even at home in a safe, locked filing cabinet. Just make sure that it’s in a secure location, and that you inform people, such as your executor, where it is stored, so that when the time comes it can be easily located.
- Think about your digital assets: from email to social accounts to digital music, do you want to pass these on to your family or friends or have your accounts removed entirely?