The importance of a Will
If you are married, you could be forgiven for assuming your marriage means you don’t need a Will. It’s a common presumption, since in most cases joint assets pass automatically to the surviving spouse. However, a Will is a hugely important document, and there are only some individuals who will be protected by the rules of intestacy – the laws that apply for those with no Will.
So, before you disregard the need for a Will, it’s necessary to consider your estate as a whole (including assets in your sole name) and decide if there are any others you wish to benefit from your wealth upon your passing.
Rules of intestacy
If you pass away with no Will, there is a certain order in which the members of your family will benefit. If, for example, you are married and have children, your spouse will inherit your estate up to the value of £250,000, as well as any personal belongings, regardless of value. This would include artwork, jewellery, collectibles and clothing.
If your estate exceeds £250,000, your spouse will get the first £250,000, as well as absolute interest in half the remainder, with the other half being divided equally between your children.
If you have a long-term partner, but are not married or in a civil partnership, the intestacy rules do not allow for that partner to inherit. The same applies for step-children, as only direct descendants can inherit under the rules of intestacy. As such, you’ll need to carefully consider your family circumstances before choosing not to make a Will.
Gifts to charities
If you have a particular cause that is close to your heart, you may want to leave a gift to that organisation in your Will. Many people choose to leave money to a charity when they pass away, but the rules of intestacy don’t allow for this. The only way to ensure a gift of your chosen amount is made to your preferred cause is by making a Will.
Wills don’t only express who should benefit from your wealth. They also give you a chance to outline any funeral wishes you may have, who you would like to appoint as a guardian for your children in the event that they need one, and who you would like to administer your estate when you pass away. By drafting a Will, you have a legal document in place that will ensure all these wishes are met.
Making a Will
When making a Will, it’s important to consider the overall value of your estate and speak to professionals such as Kent tax advisors to mitigate the impact of inheritance tax on your beneficiaries. When you’re happy with the plan for distributing your wealth, it’s important to ensure your Will is signed and witnessed in accordance with long-established practices, so that it remains valid.
Remember, a Kent accountant for Probate services can also provide assistance to your executor when it comes to valuing your estate and obtaining Probate.