Client Guide: Making a Will

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You may consider that a Will is not necessary and that what you own will be fairly distributed on your death anyway.  But that is not necessarily the case.

Parliament has laid down strict rules for the distribution of the property of a person who has died without making a Will (intestate).  Here we provide answers to some of the questions frequently asked of us by our clients.

What can happen if you die without making a Will?

The law decides who inherits your money and property.

  • Your husband, wife or civil partner (hereafter referred to as "partner") may not have enough to live on.
  • The family home may have been sold.
  • Nothing will go to friends or charities.
  • If your partner remarries or enters into a new civil partnership, your children may get nothing when he or she dies.
  • Your children or step-children may not be adequately provided for nor guardians appointed to look after them.
  • Unmarried partners, or partners not in a civil partnership, will receive nothing.
  • Distant relatives or even the Government may benefit from your estate.
  • Your family may pay more tax than necessary.
  • Inevitably there will be more problems of succession to your business.

What does the law say?

  • If you die leaving a partner and children, your partner receives the personal effects and the sum of £250,000.  The rest of your estate is divided in two and your children receive one half at the age of 18 and the other half has to be administered as a trust.  Your partner will receive the income of the trust until his/her death when it passes to the children.
  • If you die leaving a partner and no children, your partner receives the personal effects and the sum of £450,000.  The rest of your estate is again divided into two.  Your partner receives one half and the other half goes to your parents, or if they have already died, to your brothers and sisters or their children.
  • If you have no partner or children, your estate will be divided between your parents, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, grandparents, uncles, aunts or certain cousins in accordance with the rules laid down.  If you have no relations close enough, your estate will go to the Government.

What does this mean in simple terms?

  • Your house may have to be sold and your partner may have to find somewhere else to live.
  • The income from half the remainder of the estate may not provide enough for your partner to live on.
  • Your children may receive a large sum of money at the age of 18, an age at which you may consider them to be too inexperienced and immature to be handling large amounts.
  • No guardians will have been appointed to look after them.
  • You may have wished to make cash gifts to friends or neighbours or pass particular personal items such as jewellery to friends or relatives.
  • No charity can benefit from your estate.
  • Unmarried partners get nothing and neither do former partners or step-children.  But they may be able to make a claim on your estate.
  • The tax burden on the estate may be unnecessarily heavy.
  • Generally the family may be left with distressing financial problems at a time when they may be least able to cope with them.
  • Distant relatives whom you have not seen for many years may be entitled to a share of your estate.  A Will allows you to have complete control of your estate.
  • You can provide for your family, relatives, friends and charities in the manner best suited to the circumstances and try to ensure that no one suffers financially because of your death.
  • You should consider what will happen to any business you own.  Who will run it?

What do you need to decide?

  • Whom would you like to be executors of your Will to see that your wishes are carried out?, an executor must be at least 18, someone who benefits under the terms of the Will can still act as executor, if you wish you can appoint your partner.  You can also appoint children (over 18), relatives, friends or solicitors.  Partners of Blake Morgan often act as executors for clients.
  • If you have young children, do you need to appoint a guardian to bring them up?
  • Do you wish to leave cash sums to grandchildren, relatives, godchildren, guardians, friends, neighbours or charities?
  • Are there any specific items, e.g. jewellery to be given to people?
  • How is the remainder of your estate to be distributed?
  • If a primary beneficiary were to die before you, whom would you want to benefit instead?  For example, if a man with two sons decides to divide his estate between them, he should consider what is to happen if one son dies before him.  Should the dead son’s share go to his children, his wife, or his brother?
  • If all your close family were to die with you in an accident, between whom would you like the estate to be divided?
  • If the house or any other property is in joint names, do you know the type of joint ownership?  In the case of a house or land, there may be a ‘joint tenancy’ or ‘tenancy in common’ and reference to the deeds may be necessary.
  • Have you decided who should be entitled on your death to payment under any life assurance policy, mortgage or pension arrangements and have you taken the necessary action to ensure that payment is made in accordance with your wishes?  This may be governed by rules in the policy or pension scheme and not governed by your Will.  If you are in doubt we can look at the documents for you.
  • Are there any members of your immediate family or other dependents whom you wish to exclude from your Will?
  • Do you wish to record in your Will any directions about your funeral, e.g. cremation, burial?
  • Do you wish to provide for what will happen to your pets after you have died?

Why make a Will with Blake Morgan?

  • You can decide who will benefit from your money and property.
  • You can plan for and provide for your family.
  • You can safeguard your family’s future.
  • You can have your Will stored free of charge by us.
  • You will receive a folder for your copy Will and other papers.
  • You will have access to our taxation planning services.
  • You can be advised about powers of attorney, advance decisions and related matters.

 

For further information please contact: