Recent research by the Law Society has revealed that 73% of adults aged 16-54 have not yet made a Will. Yet few people seem to be aware of how their estate would be distributed under the ‘intestacy rules’ if they do not make a legally valid Will, and the complications and expense that may result from this.
Some 23% of people believe that all of their possessions will automatically pass to their loved ones, and 34% of people who have not made a Will believe that they have nothing worth leaving. It has been estimated that over £8 million passed to the Treasury in inheritance tax, a large proportion of which could have been avoided by leaving a tax-effective Will.
In addition to this the intestacy rules can be more complex than many people appreciate, and sorting out their estate can be a time consuming and expensive process. For example, it is usually necessary for the executors to obtain a special Insurance Bond the premium for which is paid from the estate, and which would not be necessary where a valid Will has been made.
A Will is particularly important if you wish to make provision for someone you are living with but are not married to, as under the intestacy rules they will receive nothing. If you have children by a former marriage the position is even more complex, given the likelihood that you will wish to make some provision for your partner while ensuring that your estate passes to your own children upon your partner’s death. This and many other issues can be resolved by making a Will.
Some people try to write their own Will, but unfortunately these often cause problems which may not come to light until after their death, when it may be too late to put things right. For example, they may contain ambiguities or give rise to disputes that can take years and cost thousands of pounds to resolve. Furthermore, if the Will is not properly signed and witnessed it may not be legally valid.
If you wish to make a Will, or indeed to review an existing Will that no longer reflects your circumstances and wishes, please contact Chris Wallace in our Private Client Department.