Where there is a will there is a way, as the saying goes, and where there is no Will, there could be problems coming the way of your family or those you leave behind.
Making a Will can help protect your loved ones and ensure that your estate is dealt with in the way that you choose. It is also an important tool in estate and Inheritance Tax planning. Despite this however, many people put off the making of a Will for a number of reasons, including that they don’t necessarily think it is needed right now or they are simply too busy in their daily lives.
Why should I make a Will?
The starting point is that you dictate who is to benefit from your estate. Making a Will gives you control over the direction of your assets when you die and which will also have the effect of reducing the chances of a dispute arising. This means that you can make sure your family and loved ones are provided for financially and reduce the risk of any fallout happening as a result of your death.
The family unit is often not straightforward. If you do not make a Will, then there is a risk that people you may want to benefit, such as step-children or other people you consider to be family, will not inherit from your estate or if you are estranged from a family member, they may automatically benefit from the Rules of Intestacy (see below). Having a Will in place gives clear guidance to your executors as to who should benefit from your estate.
Having a carefully drafted and valid Will can also be a very good tool in your general Inheritance Tax planning.
Why should I have a professionally drafted will?
It may be cheaper to avoid using a professional and do your own DIY Will; however, a simple mistake or a poorly worded Will can lead to increased costs in dealing with your estate and greater emotional heartache for your loved ones.
DIY or poorly drafted Wills
Research published by the Guardian suggests that poorly drafted or ineffective DIY Wills affect up to 38,000 families a year. Additionally, it is reported that up to 10% of an average person's estate can be used up trying to rectify the ineffective DIY Wills. This is going to be significantly more than going to a local solicitor and having a Will drawn up professionally.
What happens if there is no Will?
If you die without a valid Will, your estate passes by a set of certain rules that dictate how your money, property or possessions should be allocated, meaning that you have no say as who your estate passes to. These rules are known as the rules of intestacy. Your estate will pass to the beneficiaries identified under these rules and if you don’t have any family, then your estate will be deemed Bona Vacantia, which means vacant goods and ownerless property, which by law, passes to the Crown.
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