You may think that you are immortal or tempting fate if you make a Will. Many people steer clear of the matter of dying and planning for when they are no longer here, thinking of it as a morbid subject. This is certain – we will all die and death can happen at any time.
Making a Will can protect your loved ones after you die and ensure your estate is dealt with as you would wish it to be. If you die without a Will, your wishes are not considered and your estate will be dealt with according to the strict laws of intestacy in each country where your assets are situated.
Protect your dependents
A Will can make provisions for your dependents’ care, as well as what they will inherit. If your children are minors, and you don’t appoint guardians, it will be left to the family courts in the relevant country to choose. Godparents have no legal role.
Provide for your children and others
A Will can make financial provisions for your children, step-children or foster children and could include setting money aside for future use or allowances. Remember that not every dependent will inherit unless you include them in your Will. It can establish trusts to protect that money and ensure that it is used accordingly. You can determine what each beneficiary will inherit, thereby avoiding any misunderstandings.
Unless you are married or are civil partners, in most countries, a co-habitee has no rights to their partner’s estate, no matter how long you have been together. Your partner will not inherit unless you provide for them in your Will. If the family home is in your name, your unmarried partner and step-children will not inherit it if you die without a will – meaning they may lose their home. You can leave them a share of the property in your will, or a right to reside in the property.
Dividing up an estate can lead to avoidable stress and arguments. If you don’t have a Will, the laws of intestacy of the relevant country will decide who inherits. If your Will is carefully prepared, it will reduce the chances of it being contested.
Benjamin Franklin said “…nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
We cannot avoid death but, fortunately, a Will can help to reduce a tax bill.
A change of circumstances
If you already have a Will, it will become automatically invalid in England and Wales when you re-marry. According to the rules of intestacy, this means your estate could end up split between your new spouse and children from a previous marriage.
These rules differ in other countries and the rights of partners will vary.
In England and Wales, getting divorced does not invalidate your Will but your ex-spouse cannot benefit from it. If you left everything to your spouse and then divorced, the gift would fail and your estate would be distributed according to the laws of intestacy.
So it is best to make a new will immediately after divorce, especially if your spouse or civil partner was a beneficiary, an executor or a trustee.
You can name executors in your Will. Usually a minimum of two people, who would distribute your estate according to your wishes. This is a legal role so choose wisely.
You can state what you would like to happen to your pets, someone to look after them, and put some money aside to feed them and look after their health. Or you could name a charity to take them. You can leave a legacy to a chosen charity too.
Finally, if you die in England and Wales without a Will and you have no relatives, your estate will go to the Crown.
Who receives your assets in other countries would be decided by the courts.
When is the right time to make a Will? The time is now
For more information contact 07939 578 631 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
*Source: Royal London Insurance Company
Note : The reference to the laws of England & Wales is purely to give an example and does not reflect the laws of other countries.