“Which” Top Reasons For Writing A Will
When writing a will, you don’t just decide how your estate is divided up! You also have a say as to WHO should look after your dependents, your pets, your digital assets, and the list goes on! Here is the Which guide to Top Reasons for Writing a Will. If you need more help, please contact Cheryl Carter, Every Home Matters. We have solicitors we can put you in touch with or see our Support Directory.
Make a will to name your children’s guardian
If your children are under 18, you can also appoint their legal guardians. If you don’t, the decision could be left to the family courts, who may choose a person you wouldn’t agree with. You may have named friends or family members to be your children’s godparents, but this isn’t legally binding. Find out more: will writing for new parents
Ensure your children are provided for financially as well as saying who will raise your children.
You can make plans to provide for their future financially: This might include putting aside money for their education, making sure they receive a set amount each year for clothing or hobbies or establishing a nest egg to buy a home.
You may wish to consider setting up a trust to provide for your children, as this gives you an element of control over when your children receive the money, and what it gets used for. There are two ways to set up a trust: you can either establish it while you are still alive, or leave instructions for it to be established when you pass away. See our guide to will trusts to learn more about your options, and how different types of trust work and what they might cost.
Provide for your dependents, including step-children: Your step-children may be a big part of your life, or even be your only children, but the law states that only spouses or blood relatives can automatically inherit if there is no will. If you want to provide for your step-children, you’ll need to write a will that includes them. The same goes for foster children, or any other dependents who may rely on you for support.
Protect your partner if you’re unmarried: Unmarried partners aren’t entitled to anything from your estate unless specifically stated in your will – no matter how long you’ve been together. Writing a will ensures your partner will receive their fair share of your estate.
Safeguard your family home: If the family home is in your name, your unmarried partner and step-children aren’t automatically in line to inherit it if you die without a will – meaning they may lose their home. You can leave them a share of the property in your will, or a right to reside in the property.
Head off family disputes: Dividing up an estate can sadly sometimes lead to squabbles and arguments among your survivors if there is no will or your wishes aren’t made clear. Contested wills can be damaging to relationships among your
family, and can also be expensive if decisions about your estate are legally contested. A well-prepared will can help avoid these arguments, and avoid making your passing even more stressful for your survivors.
Avoid paying more inheritance tax than you need to: The amount of inheritance tax that will be charged from your estate depends on how much you have, and also who you leave it to. Anything left to your spouse or civil partner will be automatically exempt from inheritance tax. Leaving property to your children and grandchildren is also likely to generate a lower inheritance tax bill than leaving it to others. Find out more: Inheritance tax: thresholds, rates and who pays
Create a legal will if you’re recently married: When you marry, your existing will automatically become invalid in England and Wales. According to the rules of intestacy, this means your estate could end up split between your new partner and children from a previous marriage, potentially causing arguments. In Scotland, on the other hand, prior wills are not automatically invalidated by marriage – so if you die, your new spouse may not inherit anything if your old will does not include them. And getting divorced doesn’t override your will, meaning your ex-partner may still be in line to inherit from your estate. As such, it makes sense to regularly review your will so it still reflects your situation, particularly after a marriage or separation.
Decide who you would like to settle your affairs: Within your will, you can name an executor, or multiple executors, who will be in charge of carrying out your final wishes. Choosing your executor in advance allows you to select the best person for the task. It also gives the executor prior warning so they can prepare themselves. To learn more about the responsibilities of being an executor, have a look at our guide to probate. 10.
Say who you want to look after your pets: If you have dogs, cats, or any other pets, they may also need to be looked after if you pass away. A handful of dogs have inherited fortunes, such as German Shepherd Gunther IV, who received a nine-figure sum from his deceased owner in 1992. But it’s more common to choose someone to look after them and put some money aside to feed them and look after their health.
Protect your digital assets: Nowadays, your assets won’t just include money in the bank and physical goods. Digital accounts and online purchases, such as music, photographs, or websites, also form part of your possessions and can disappear into the void if you don’t account for them in your will. Things like
emails and social media accounts also form part of your legacy – do you want the information destroyed, protected, and do you need to make passwords available to your executor? You can find more details on this in our guide to what to put in your will.
Support a charity: If you support a charity, you may wish to leave something for it when you pass away. As well as supporting a good cause, you could potentially reduce the amount of inheritance tax paid by your family if you leave more than 10% of your assets to a good cause.
We explain how this works in our guide on what to put in your will, and you’ll find more information on how charitable bequests affect the tax you pay in our inheritance tax guide.
Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/money/wills-and-probate/passing-on-your-money/reasons-for-making-a-will-a4mzh4b503jc – Which?
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