Knowing when to write your Will can be challenging. It may seem that there is never a good time to get around to it, or the entire process can seem too difficult. However, having a Will is essential, and many excellent reasons exist to create one.
Why You Need a Will
Regardless of the assets you have, having a Will is vital. Without one, you have no control over where your possessions go when you die, and your estate may be distributed in ways you would not have wanted after you pass away.
For unmarried partners, dying without a Will can have serious consequences. Many people assume their partner will inherit everything upon their death, but in reality, only married partners can inherit from one another without a Will.
Dying intestate (passing away without a Will in place) can cause financial issues for the remaining partner. Even if you want your partner or children to inherit everything, intestacy rules may not distribute your assets in the way you want. For those with dependents and children under eighteen, passing away without a Will could lead to financial problems for them, and they may be placed with guardians you would not have selected for them. Having a Will in place avoids this possibility, and you can relax knowing that your loved ones will be cared for in the future.
A Will can also have benefits for your loved ones after your death. A secure Will can reduce confusion and complications, and you can also outline your funeral wishes, which can ease the process for the people arranging your funeral. By naming your executors in your Will, you can simplify the process for your loved ones as well, as they will know who needs to take charge in advance. Alternatively, you can also name a professional executor in your Will, making estate administration easier.
Wills can also reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax that is payable on your estate. Inheritance Tax is currently charged at a rate of 40%, and a huge chunk of your estate may be taken without a Will in place.
When to Write Your Will
There is no one time to write your Will. However, several events may encourage you to write one, including:
- Getting married – when you marry, any previous Will you have written is automatically revoked. If you pass away without creating a new one or without writing one at all, your estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy. Although your spouse will get all personal property and belongings, they will not inherit all of the estate. Instead, they will be entitled to the first £270,000, then half of the remaining estate after it has been distributed to children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren. If there are no children, the partner will inherit the whole estate.
- Having children – a Will is essential when you have children. When your children are under eighteen, you can name guardians for them in your Will and detail the assets you want them to have after you pass away. When your children become adults, you may want to update your Will to reflect changes in your wishes or even name your child as an executor.
- Starting a business – if you have started or own a business, you can create a business Will to ensure that your company will be looked after once you pass away. Without a Will to detail where your business interests will go, they could pass to someone who does not know what to do with them, or the company may be at risk in the future.
- Buying a home – buying a house can significantly impact the value of your estate and may change who you choose to name as your beneficiaries. A new home can be a great time to create a Will, as you may want to ensure that it is protected for your children or your partner should you pass away.
Although many young people may not think they need a Will, you can create one from age eighteen onwards. The earlier it is created, the more control you have over your assets and where they will go.
Updating Your Will
Even if you have a Will in place, if you have had it for over five years without updating it, or your circumstances have changed, you may need to revisit it. If you wrote your Will before 2017, it is also advisable to review it now, as changes to Inheritance Tax law and the uplift in residence nil rate band (RNRB) means that you can pass on more of your estate Inheritance Tax free.
Other reasons to update your Will include:
- Buying or selling property
- Including new children or grandchildren as beneficiaries
- Getting divorced or splitting up with a partner
You can change your Will with a document called a codicil, which allows you to make minor alterations. They are suitable for adding new beneficiaries or changing a gift, but they may not be enough for your needs. If you are making significant changes, it is generally much easier to revoke your original Will and create a new one from scratch.
While it may not seem like there is ever a good time to create your Will, having one is essential for later life planning. Without one, your assets may be distributed in a way you would not want, and your dependents may not be cared for.
The Planning Bee can help with all your Will writing needs, whether you are creating your first Will or need to update or create a new one. Contact us today to find out more.
Create your Will today with The Planning Bee – get in touch with our team of experts today for a free consultation.