Wills were once perceived as only something to worry about if you were very old and very rich. Having our financial affairs in order brings a huge comfort regardless of life-stage or degree of wealth, yet still only around a third of UK adults have written a Will.
Why bother? First and foremost, a Will ensures that after you’re gone, your assets fall into the right hands, relieving family members of having awkward discussions about money and letting them grieve in peace. The more technical aspect of a Will ensures you don’t overpay on inheritance tax – although this complex area is one where specialist advice is crucial to making the best decisions.
While you can write your own Will, legal advice reduces any risk of misinterpretation and it’s a sensible inclusion in your broader financial plan – part of getting your house in order, if you like. With that in mind, remember Wills are not just the domain of the elderly. Because life is full of uncertainties, especially if you have a family, you might consider writing a Will far earlier than you believe is relevant, so you can rest assured your loved ones will be taken care of in the way you’d hoped. It’s never too early and you can always write a new one if circumstances change at a later date. With even the slightest complexity, from running a business or holding property overseas, to having a second spouse and multiple dependants, legal advice is strongly recommended before preparing your document.
The witnessing, signing and dating is as important as the contents, otherwise the Will is rendered invalid. Don’t forget about safekeeping – tell your spouse or partner, a close friend or the person you appoint as your estate executor of the whereabouts of your Will, just in case. Discussions about Wills come with many myths, such as the husband or wife of anyone who dies intestate will automatically receive the entire estate – not necessarily the case and ‘common law’ partners don’t resonate with HMRC, regardless of the length of relationship.
Remove the risk. Take the right advice and use the opportunity to make some very important decisions while you still have the chance.