A Will is a legal document in which a person declares their intention as to what should happen to their assets after their death. You are not legally obliged to make a Will, but if you own property or other assets, it is advisable to make one as it allows you to:
1. Avoid intestacy
If you die without a Will in place, your assets will be distributed according to the intestacy rules. These rules are rigid and are designed to deal with the average estate, rather than taking account of individual circumstances.
Among other things, they:
- may limit the amount that your spouse or civil partner will receive;
- entitle unmarried partners to nothing; and
- allow children to inherit at age 18.
Furthermore, application of the intestacy rules can be time consuming and expensive, which may diminish the assets in your estate even further.
Making a Will ensures that these rules are avoided and that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes.
2. Specify what happens to your assets after your death
Making a Will enables you to specify exactly to whom your assets will be given on your death and the manner in which they are given, so that, for example:
- both a second spouse or partner as well as a family
from an earlier marriage or relationship may be
- gifts may be put in trust rather than left to
beneficiaries outright. This could be for various
reasons, be it to exercise control over assets that are
being passed to children, to protect assets that are at
risk in situations such as a divorce or to allow for the
sharing of assets between different beneficiaries; and
- personal items such as jewellery and heirlooms may
be left to specified beneficiaries.
3. Minimise inheritance tax
Inheritance tax (IHT) is charged at 40% on the value of assets exceeding the nil rate band (currently £325,000). Gifts to particular persons such as spouses may qualify for IHT relief as may charitable giving and gifts of assets such as business property. An additional nil rate band for the family home is being phased in from 6 April 2017 worth £100,000 rising to £175,000 by 6 April 2020. Making a Will enables the distribution of your assets to be structured in the most tax efficient way, so as to minimise your estate’s exposure to IHT.
4. Appoint your executors
Your executors have the important role of administering your estate and making sure that your assets are distributed in accordance with your Will. They may also act as trustees where assets are left in trust for many years after your death, for example for children and other family members. Making a Will enables you to ensure that the most appropriate people are chosen to carry out these important tasks.
5. Appoint guardians for your children
If you have children under 18, it is advisable to appoint guardians for them should you and your partner die while they are still young. In the absence of a Will, this is dictated by law, and is outside your control. Making a Will enables you to choose the people who will be responsible for your loved ones.
6. Make specific funeral arrangements
Making a Will allows you to set out your wishes for any specific funeral arrangements you might have.
What can we offer?
We can advise you on all matters relating to Wills and succession planning, from the simplest cases to the most complex and intricate situations. If you would like to prepare a Will or review your existing Will, please contact us.