10 reasons to draw up a will

It’s easy to put off making a will – after all, who likes to think about their own death? But there are lots of good reasons to plan ahead.

What is a will?

A will is a legal declaration of your final wishes. Essentially it outlines how you wish to dispose of all your possessions. But a will is more than just a list of items with names next to them, it is actually a document of significant authority, and one that everyone should consider having.  

The common argument is usually phrased by the question, “Why can’t I write it myself?” The simple answer is that a will which doesn’t meet the legal formalities, when the time comes, won’t be worth the piece of paper it is written on. At the least, a solicitor can make sure that your will is legally compliant.

For a will to be valid, the testator (that’s the legal jargon for the person making the will) needs to have the necessary capacity and intention to make a will. Put simply, a testator must be over the age of 18, have a sound mind and understanding and know (not to mention agree to) what it is they are disposing of after their death. Lastly, and equally important, the will must be in writing and signed both by the testator to confirm intention and two witnesses at the same time.

Why draw up a will?

There is a general misconception that making a will is only relevant when the person making it is substantially wealthy but the purpose of a will is not just to divide up your money and assets. Below are 10 more reasons for drawing up a will:

  1. Distribution of your possessions
    This is the most commonly recognised reason for writing a will. 
  2. Deciding your funeral process
    Not only can you declare your wishes for the disposal of your possessions, but also declare your wishes for your funeral, from the music to the flowers and even the tributes. 
  3. Confirm your mental capacity
    As well as declaring your final wishes, a will reflects your intentions but also seeks to confirm your mental capacity. 
  4. Avoid post-death family squabbles
    The above points are all essential to validate a will and are often the factors used when a will is disputed. A will can therefore avoid stress, arguments and heartache. 
  5. Clarity without involving the court
    Often families tend to be irrational when property and money are involved. At the same time, one member of the family may feel that your funeral ought to be held in one way, while another may feel differently.  When intentions and feelings are made clear by the use of a will, this document can provide clarity without the need for court.
  6. Protect your finances and affairs when still alive
    Unfortunately, when your mental capacity is being questioned in a dispute, the matter will more often than not end up in court. By drawing up a will when you are of sound mind, you are protecting your finances and affairs.
  7. Protect your loved ones
    The death of a loved one is a difficult process for most. Often when you leave your finances in disarray, or without clear instructions, the difficult task is left to your loved ones. By outlining clear instructions, you may just reduce some of the heartache that is caused by your loss. 
  8. Overrule intestacy rules
    In the UK intestacy rules come into play when a person passes away. This means that the government may step in to distribute your assets the way these rules dictate. In order to avoid these, it is important to have a legally binding will.
  9. If you aren’t married
    If you are in a relationship but aren’t married when you pass away, your partner (co-habituated or not) has a very low chance of receiving anything. If you would like to provide for your partner after you are gone, but aren’t legally married, it is vital you spell that out in a will.
  10. Reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax your inheritors pay
    In the UK, our non taxable estate is up to £325,000. If you didn’t make a will, your spouse may inherit everything, and would have to pay an inheritance tax of 40% for anything over this threshold. However if you had intended to split the inheritance, you may find that most your inheritors may not have to pay that tax. Additionally, a solicitor may be able to advise you on further reducing this tax burden, for example, from 6 April 2012 people who leave 10 per cent or more of their net estate to charity can choose to pay a reduced rate of Inheritance Tax of 36 per cent.

How can I make a will?

The best way to make a will is with the support of an experienced wills and probate solicitor. The advice and expertise of a solicitor is to help reduce the risk of a will being contested.

As experts in will writing, QualitySolicitors will created a will that is right for you and your beneficiaries. For more information on how we can help, find your local QualitySolicitors branch today.

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