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Poll question result- Do we feel it’s important to have a Will?


Over the past couple of months on we ran a poll asking all our visitors if the felt it was important to have a Will. According to other external survey’s more than two thirds of people in the UK still don’t actually have a Will- so does that mean we just don’t see them as important?
Results from our recent poll showed that 56.3% of voters believed having a Will was “very important”. 25% of voters believed Wills are only important if you have something worth leaving behind, and 9.4% of voters would only get a Will if they had children. The remaining 9.3% of people do not think it is important to have a Will at all.

Over 50% of people seem to think it is important to have a Will, but only a third of people actually have one. If you have not had time to make a Will but would like to, if you believe there is no point in making a Will because you have nothing of importance to leave behind, if you were waiting until you have children to make a Will, or if you don’t think it is important at all to have a Will, read on. I will tell you why it is important for almost everyone to have a Will, and what happens if you die without one.

What is a Will?

A Will lets you decide what happens to your estate (your property, money and possessions) after you pass away. It also makes sure you won’t pay more Inheritance Tax than you need to.

What happens if I die without a Will?

If you die without a Will there are several scenarios as to what could happen.

Firstly your estate will be shared out according to “rules of intestacy”. This means only husbands, wives, civil partners and some other close family members will be able to inherit your estate.

If the value of your estate is under £250,000 all of it will be inherited by your husband, wife or civil partner. If you are divorced or the civil partnership has been legally ended, your former partner will not receive anything.

If your estate is valued at more than £250,000, your partner will inherit all your personal property and belongings up to the first £250,000 of the estate, plus half of the remaining estate. The rest will be passed onto your remaining family, starting with your children if you have any, then your parents, and then onto various family members, depending on your family circumstances.

What happens if you’re not married?

If don’t happen to be married or you’re not in a civil partnership, your estate will be passed onto your children. If you don’t have any children then your parents, if they are still alive, will receive your estate. If you no longer have parents your estate will be given to various other family members, who may have to pay Inheritance Tax. If you have no family members and have no Will, your whole estate will be given to the crown.

Why should I make a Will?

It is important to have a Will for a number of reasons, the most common being:
• If you would like to leave any of your estate to family members other than your husband, wife or civil partner
• You would like to leave any of your estate to charity
• If you are not married and would like your partner to receive any of your estate
• If you would like to leave anything to friends or carers
If you pass away without a Will, none of your estate will be left to any of these people when you die. It is important to have a think about the person/people you would like to inherit your estate.

What do I need to think about when making my Will?

Making a Will can sometimes be a complex process, but that should not put you off.
• You need to choose an Executor
An Executor is the person who will carry out your wishes when you are gone. They can be an individual, such as a family or friend, or a professional, like a solicitor or accountant. It will be the Executor’s responsibility to find your assets and manage them until they are distributed to inheritors. This may involve deciding whether to sell real estate or securities owned by the deceased person or deciding whether or not probate court proceedings are needed.
• If you have children, you need to choose a guardian
If you have children, you may need to appoint a person or persons to be their guardian in the event of your death. You can make provision in your Will to allow your guardian(s) to receive payment from the estate to make sure they don't suffer any financial hardship by taking on the responsibility.
• When do you want your child to receive their part of your estate?
If your child is not yet 18 years old they will automatically receive what is left to them at the age of 18. If you feel this is too young you can change this to 21 or 25 years old.
• Would you like to leave anyone a gift?
If you would like to leave anyone a certain item of yours, such as jewellery, or a certain sum of money, you must specifically state this in your Will.
• Funeral Plans
You can elaborate on your funeral plans in your Will, if there is anything specific you would like and how it can be paid for. Planning your funeral can lessen the hardship for the family or friends you have left behind, even though it can sometimes be hard to think about this kind of thing.

How do I make a Will?

There are a variety of ways to make a Will. You can do it yourself, as many stationery shops and newsagents sell pre-printed Wills you can buy. If you decided to do it this way, you need to have a witness with you when you sign the Will, who is not going to get any of your estate, or it won’t be valid. If you decided to write a Will yourself you may be in danger of leaving out key requirements that may make the Will invalid, so unless you are entirely confident we recommend that you get it reviewed by a solicitor.
If you have a large estate, complex financial affairs or if you would like to leave any of your estate to people outside of your family, you may need legal or financial advice.

So, if you are one of the 9.4% of people who do not think it is important to have a Will, think again! They are a vital part of making sure your family are looked after and your wishes are carried out once you pass away. If you like any more information or guidance on Will writing, then please contact our financial advisers. You can get in touch by asking a question online, calling us on 0800 092 1245, or by arranging a visit.

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