A Will is a legal document that sets forth your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets and the care of any minor children. If you die without a Will, then those wishes will not be carried out and the rules of intestacy will apply. Further, your family may have to spend more time, money and emotional energy to settle your estate.
Even if you have a Will, there are certain circumstances when your existing Will may revoke, for example, if you get married, unless there are particular provisions within your Will. The same applies to a civil partnership.
Many believe that if they do not have a Will, then “everything” will be inherited by their husband or wife. This is not the case.
What a surviving spouse inherits is limited to:
a. All personal possessions;
b. The first £270,000 of your estate by value; and
c. One half of any excess estate above the £270,000 threshold.
If you intend for your spouse to inherit more than this, then you should immediately consider preparing a Will.
Whilst it is not something you probably wish to think about, but without a Will, you have not left any provisions in the event that your spouse passes away before you. What will happen to those assets on the second death? It is important that such provisions are made through your Will.
Whilst on the topic of marriage, what about if this is your second marriage? You may wish to consider including provisions within your Will to specifically exclude that person to ensure protection in the event that a claim is made by the ex-spouse upon your death.
Another issue to take into account is any minor children.
If you pass away and there are no other people who are considered to have parental responsibility (see here to understand what parental responsibility is), then a family member, such as a grandparent, aunt/uncle, niece/nephew, cannot simply decide that they will look after the child(ren). They would need to make an application to the Court seeking parental responsibility for the child(ren) and this is not only costly and time-consuming, but your child(ren) will be in the care of the local authority in the meantime.
It is therefore important that your Will makes arrangements for a guardian in your Will so that that person can take on the responsibly of caring for the child(ren) without the involvement of the Court process or the local authority.
The list can go on as to how important it is to have a Will. It is not until a person experiences the devastating effects there are when passing away intestate, do people then understand the importance of a Will.
The information provided in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice and you should take full and comprehensive legal advice on your individual circumstances by a fully qualified Solicitor before you embark on any course of action.
Contact me with your questions:
0207 183 4595