Will, what is it and do I need one?

No one wants to plan for death but unfortunately, this is the reality of life. This is why it is important to have a Will in place should the unexpected happen and you pass away.

A Will is legal documentation of your last wishes when it comes to your belongings, meaning you get to decide who gets what as well as helping to avoid unnecessary inheritance tax.

Wills are legally binding and express how you wish to divide your property, money and possessions (which we call your “estate”) and would be in effect once you were to pass.

The biggest reason you may want to write a Will is that you have specific loved ones whom you may wish to benefit from your estate once you are not present, and this way you are making sure those named on the Will correctly receive the items you have bestowed to them.

Some of the main reasons for getting a Will are;

You are a parent

Have a foster or stepchild

Your partner and yourself are not married

Have loved ones who are not directly related

You have specific funeral requests

Why married parents should have a Will.

Many young married couples with children do not consider writing a Will because they just don’t want to think about the possibility of death, or they believe their assets don’t warrant setting one up.

Nevertheless, most people have some assets such as a car, bank accounts, home or life insurance, all of which form part of your estate when you die.

When there is no Will, all of these assets will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy. This may lead to uncertainty and financial worry for your family and dependents.

Therefore, without making provisions for your spouse, children, and other beneficiaries within a valid Will, there is the risk that you do not have control over who will inherit what.

A Will can guarantee that if you or your partner were to pass, your family and loved ones would be taken care of and your estate would be distributed as you wish. However, it is not all about money. Writing a Will also allows you to appoint guardians for your children and executors for your estate that will impact the upbringing of your children.

If you do not specify these items in your Will, and both parents are deceased, your local authority or the courts may be left to decide who should look after your children and handle your estate. Furthermore, any stepchildren or foster children won’t inherit anything.

If you are worried about a future without you and how your children may be raised, you should include the following in your Will:

Appoint A Guardian

If you have children under 18, you need to write a Will and appoint legal guardians responsible for looking after your children to protect their future in case you pass away. A legal guardian is responsible for all the responsibilities you cover as a parent, including:

– Raising them until adulthood

– Providing a safe living environment

– Ensuring they get an education

Think carefully about whom you want to appoint as a guardian. If you do not select a guardian, the local authorities will be responsible for making such a decision.

Whilst they commonly appoint immediate family, this is not always the case. Keep in mind that the guardian is obliged to take care of children until they are 18.

Most people nominate more than one guardian, usually a couple, or at least a substitute guardian just in case the first one is unwilling or unable to accept. But be sure to discuss this with those you want to choose before appointing them in your Will.

Also, a godparent is not a guardian and has no legal rights. If you wish for the godparents to look after your children if anything happens, you must name them as guardians in your Will.

Plan Your Children’s Finances

Saving money for a child today is a wonderful gift for their future. They will be able to start their adult lives with some savings under their belts and learn important lessons about finance.

Think carefully and make arrangements to support the expenses of raising your children in the event of your death. You need to balance the competing needs of all members of your family in your Will.

Decide how your estate should provide for your partner, children, stepchildren, and any other people or organisations that you wish to benefit, such as charities.

Include Your Stepchildren And Dependents

Your stepchildren have no automatic right to inherit from your estate unless you include them in your Will, so you must make arrangements in your Will to meet their financial needs too.

Consider how your foster children and any other dependent adults that rely upon you should benefit from your estate.

Also do keep in mind that your life insurance policy, pension scheme, and any other assets held in trust, will not be passed down within your Will.

If you want your children to inherit these financial products, you’ll need to contact each provider and nominate your children, stepchildren, foster children or other dependents as your beneficiaries.

Declare The Age Of Inheritance

UK law states that any child under the age of 18 cannot inherit their parents’ estate. Instead, they must wait until they turn 18 to receive their inheritance.

Their inheritance will be held in trust and managed by a trustee to provide for your child. For example, the child receives an allowance from a cash fund, but will not be able to withdraw money without the trustee’s consent.

Decide when your children can manage their inheritance. You might think 18 years old is too young to be financially responsible. You can set a higher age if you wish or put place conditions for access. Many people declare 21 as the age of inheritance, or even older.

You may want to distribute your child’s inheritance in regular payments, to ensure that the money is not spent all at once. Then it is imperative you have a legal Will, to make sure your wishes regarding your children’s inheritance are carried out.

Select Trustees For Your Children’s Inheritance

If you pass away before the age your children can inherit, their assets will be held in a trust.

You need to nominate a trusted person, known as the trustee, responsible for taking care of the beneficiary’s inheritance until they come of age. Choose very carefully as that trustee must defend your children’s assets and help them plan for their future.

The trustee controls your children’s finances. You might want to appoint your partner as one of the trustees, and substitute trustees in case both parents pass away.

Do not appoint one trustee! If for any reason, that person could not fulfil that role, courts dictate who will control your children’s finances. And there is always a chance that the person is not the one you would choose.

If a loved one isn’t related or married to you. 

What would happen if you were to pass and your partner was not married to you, or that those who were closest aren’t related to you?

Without a Will, they would most likely receive nothing, and this could either be against your wishes or burden them financially without the support of your estate.

Naming your partner in a Will or a close friend could be the difference between covering funeral costs and/or providing them with a more comfortable future and keeping your estate from being distributed to those you do not wish to be handling your possessions and finances.

Whatever your wishes or circumstances, naming your benefactors will always make the process of distributing your estate much more consistent and eliminate any unnecessary mistakes that could arise.

You have specific funeral requests 

If you request to be buried or cremated, or maybe you have specific instructions that you wish to be present at your funeral, a Will is the best documentation to outline your wishes so that your family or whoever may be taking care of the ceremony will have a clear set of instructions to follow to ensure your request is fulfilled.

A Will is for everyone

Everyone can do with a Will, death is unpredictable and once we are gone we cannot make our own decisions. A Will makes sure that you are heard and your wishes according to your estate and requests are read and legally met where applicable.

Writing a Will is of utmost importance for managing your estate and what should happen to it. Do make sure you include whoever you may wish to inherit from your estate within your Will, to ensure your assets are distributed in a manner according to your wishes.

You must state your wishes and conditions for your heirs to avoid any misunderstanding, and to prevent your Estate from being administered under the rules of intestacy.

Should I write my own Will?

It can be challenging to write your own Will, from the jargon that comes with the documents to the stress you may feel during this time, this is where a Will service could help you through it. There are several benefits to using such a service to write your Will.

Firstly, getting your Will written by experts in the field means you’ll always have someone you can lean on to explain any queries you may have on specific phrasing or jargon that gets thrown in procedures such as this. This will make it a far less stressful and confusing process.

Furthermore, using a Will writing service compared to writing it yourself will ensure that there are no mistakes, and your Will is legally binding. So, all your assets will go to the people that you want them to go to, and you don’t need to worry.

Finally, using a Will writing service is often far cheaper than using a solicitor. You will get the same results of an accurate, stress-free, legally binding Will, but at a far more purse-friendly cost.

Who can help me?

There’s no need to stress about writing your Will. Using a Will writing service can make the whole process easy, for less than you might think. Our partners, Libertas Wills, would be happy to help and their qualified and friendly staff will be more than happy to talk you though the process.