Do I Need a Will?
Getting a will made might seem like a pointless and unnecessary expense. Maybe you have put off having one made until you’re older or have more significant assets. But what are the benefits of having a will made now?
In this guide we’ll cover some of the key benefits of having a Will, why you probably need one and what you should consider before writing it.
1) Summary in 30 Seconds
- Having a valid Will is going to help your family wind up your estate quickly. There is less likelihood of arguments or disputes, because you have already expressed your wishes through your Will.
- If you don’t have a valid Will, you won’t be able to leave your money or possessions to the people or charities of your choice.
- Having a Will isn’t just about where your assets go – you can also make funeral plans and specify who will care for your children.
2) Benefits of Having a Will
Instead of asking yourself “Why do I need a Will?”, Think about those you love and how you try every day to make them happy and feel secure. We would all like to make our loved one’s lives easier. What if this was possible even after you’re gone? The death of a loved one is difficult enough without the added complication that you didn’t state your wishes for your estate prior to your passing.
- The state must now intervene and will make decisions based on the laws of Intestacy.
- Those who are not your immediate next-of-kin will receive nothing.
- Any promises or wishes made when you were alive cannot be kept to.
- The courts will assign who will administer to your estate (known as the Executor), this will also be assigned to your next-of-kin. This itself is a burden and responsibility that they may not be prepared for.
- This can be a longer and more complicated process than if you had a Will.
By making a will, you can :
- Plan what is to happen to all your possessions, assets and money.
- Leave specific gifts of possessions or money to family, friends or charities of your choosing.
- You can release family members from the burden of being your Executor by having a solicitor as your Executor, or discussing it with a family member before naming them in your will. This ensures ahead of time that they are capable of doing this for you.
- You can make your funeral plans.
3) Do I Need a Will if I Have No Assets?
If you die without a valid will in place, the laws of Intestacy apply and the state will have to intervene. This means your estate will go to your next-of-kin. Even if you think you only have a relatively small estate, there may be possessions or gifts you would like specific people to receive.
- There may be a charity you’ve supported that you would like to make a gift to
- You may have a close friend who could really benefit from your car
- You might have inherited some family heirlooms you would like to make sure that they stay in the family
This means you need a Will – even if you have no valuable assets right now. Of course, these wishes might change and you will need to update your will in the future. A valid will is a way to meaningfully distribute your estate. Even if you think you have very little in terms of monetary value, what you do have could mean a lot to those you love.
4) Do I Need a Will If I’m Married?
Yes. If you are married, you might think that having a Will is unnecessary. After all, if you die you would expect that your spouse would become sole owner of everything you owned together.
- But dying Intestate is more time-consuming and costly than dying with a valid Will in place.
- If you don’t have a Will it is also unlikely you’ve made funeral plans. This then becomes yet another thing your spouse has to deal with.
- As well, if neither you nor your spouse have made a Will, what will happen to your estate when you both die?
- Additionally, there might be people other than your spouse you would like to leave an inheritance to. For example, children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and so on.
Did You Know?
Without a Will, if your estate is worth less than £250,000, your spouse will inherit everything. If your estate is worth more than that, your spouse will inherit the first £250,000 and all personal possessions. Any further monies will be split between your spouse and any children equally.
These are not matters we might want to dwell on. By making a Will, you can eliminate a few of those “what ifs?” and concentrate on your future together. Making a will is not just about distributing money and possessions – we can make decisions now that release our family from making them in the future and a huge amount of unnecessary stress.
5) Do I Need a Will If I have Children?
The answer is an emphatic yes. Having a Will is a key way in providing for your children. In your will, you and your spouse can name who you would like to be guardians of your children. If you don’t name who this would be, the courts will have to decide. It may not be the person you would have wanted. You probably have in mind a person or couple close to you, who you believe are capable to fill this role and would raise your children in the way that you would want. While the courts will do their best to find a suitable guardian, a parent or caregiver knows what their child needs and what kind of household they would want them raised in. It is likely that the guardian you appoint knows you and your children well too.
When thinking about this person or couple, consider:
- If they share your values and feelings on how to raise children
- How well they already know your children – their personalities, routines, likes and dislikes, etc.
- If their circumstances put them in a good position to care for children – for example, their health, financial or living situation.
A Will brings Clarity
If you have children, your will is the document that sets out their future as well. In the event that you are no longer here, you can still make decisions for them now to ensure the best possible outcome and with as little stress as possible in an already very difficult situation.
6) What Will Happen to My Pets If I Die?
PDSA.org’s 2020 report found that 50.1% of adults in the U.K. have a pet — that’s over 20 million cats and dogs, not counting rabbits and countless other animals! Under English law, pets are classed as personal possessions. That means you can leave them to a beneficiary in your Will. If you don’t arrange this, they could potentially go to an animal shelter.
Some things to consider:
- Make sure the person you leave them to in your Will has agreed to it. A pet might not be a welcome surprise to everyone!
- Circumstances can change. You can also name a second, “back-up” beneficiary of your pets, in case your initial choice doesn’t work out for whatever reason.
- We might have several pets over the course of our lives. Make sure your Will is written in such a way to include future pets as well as the ones you currently have.
- Vet bills, food and grooming can get expensive. Consider covering your pet’s care by also leaving the beneficiary a sum of money (called a Cash Gift), with specific wording to specify that this is for the care of your pet(s).
7) Providing for A Vulnerable Person in Your Will
You may have a family member or friend who is a disabled or otherwise vulnerable person. You will want to make sure this person is cared for and looked after adequately for the rest of their lives. Leaving them a gift in your Will could ensure that they are able to access the services and assistance they need to live comfortably.
However, such situations are complex:
- This person may already be living in paid-for or state accommodation.
- They may already be receiving help or care provided by the state.
- They may have carers or Attorney(s) making financial and health decisions for them.
A Will that Works
A poorly written Will could leave them unable to benefit from your gift. It is recommended to get advice from a solicitor or legal expert who specialises in this area.
8) Do I Need A Solicitor to Write my Will?
There are many online services and tools to help people write their own Wills. These can save time and money, especially if your estate is very small and uncomplicated. However, there are numerous benefits to have a legal expert advise you on writing a Will and instructing a solicitor to write it for you.
- Example: With Youtube and online forums, it is possible to find how-to’s and instructional videos on fixing any part of a car. But if you’ve never worked on a vehicle before, it’s probably not a good idea to start with trying to fix your own brakes! Your life and that of others on the road are at stake.
- A Will is a legally binding document. Oversights and mistakes could cost your loved ones thousands of pounds in legal trouble and much stress. Consider seeking expert advice when dealing with serious matters that could affect your family’s financial future.
If you recognised yourself in any of these scenarios above, you probably need a Will. Don’t put it off any longer. Why don’t you think about adding “make a will” to your to-do list for 2021?