Making a will is an important job that many of us simply never get round to doing.
Recent research from Canada Life shows three in five (59%) UK adults have not written a will. This equates to 31 million Brits whose property, money, and other assets could end up in the wrong hands when they die.
October is Free Wills Month – when anyone aged 55 and over can have a simple will written or updated for free. You don’t have to wait until you’re 55 to make a will – indeed, the sooner you do it, the better.
Here are five reasons why you need to make a will now.
1. Make sure your assets go to the right people
If you die without a will, your money, property, and other assets could go to the wrong people, leaving your loved ones with nothing.
Dying without a will is called ‘dying intestate’. The laws of intestacy will determine who inherits your assets and in what proportion.
If you have stepchildren or an unmarried partner, they won’t receive anything because only spouses or blood relatives can inherit under intestacy law. They could even lose their home.
By making a will, you can specify exactly who will inherit your assets when you die.
2. Avoid an Inheritance Tax bill
Your will can be a useful tool to avoid or reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax (IHT) that is payable when you die. Everything you leave to your spouse or civil partner is exempt from IHT, regardless of the size of your estate.
Charitable gifts are also exempt. If you make a charitable gift worth more than 10% of your ‘net estate’ – your estate’s value minus the £325,000 IHT allowance – your IHT rate will fall from 40% to 36%.
Children aren’t exempt from paying IHT, so they could face a large tax bill if you don’t plan carefully.
3. Reduce stress and delays
Writing a will makes it a lot easier for your loved ones to organise your estate.
If you don’t have a will, it can result in horrible family disputes. What’s more, you won’t have appointed an executor, so an application will have to be made for a Grant of Letters of Administration, which can cause unwanted delays.
4. Provide for your children
You can use your will to name a legal guardian for your children. This will give you peace of mind that your children will be looked after by someone you know and trust.
If you fail to appoint a guardian, the family courts will decide who looks after your children – and it won’t necessarily be the person you would have chosen yourself.
You can also ensure your children are provided for financially, for example, by setting up a fund for their education or contributing towards their first home.
5. Protect your business
If you’re a business owner and you die without a will, your business could pass to someone with very little experience who has no interest in running it. This could result in your business being poorly managed and losing value. There’s also a risk that your shares could be sold, and the business broken up.
Get in touch
Don’t leave anything to chance. If you want information on writing a will, get in touch by emailing [email protected] or calling 0131 339 2281.
The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate estate planning, tax planning or will writing.