Whether it is because of concerns for their health, or because lockdown has afforded people more time to get round to doing it, interest in will writing has risen sharply during the pandemic.
Consumer champion Which? say that they saw a more than 600% rise in interest in will writing in April 2020 when compared to the previous year.
And, interestingly, a popular will writing service told This is Money that interest in 2020 peaked on the day Boris Johnson was admitted to intensive care after suffering with coronavirus.
Despite this, a recent survey by The Law Society revealed that 56% of respondents hadn’t made one.
So, if you haven’t yet made your will, here are six reasons you should. And, if you do already have a will, read on to find out why it’s so vital you keep it regularly updated.
1. It gives you control over what happens to your possessions when you die
The most obvious reason for having a will is that it puts you in control of your money, assets, property and possessions when you die.
In your will, you can outline how you would like your estate to be divided when you pass away, ensuring your spouse, partner and family inherit what you intend them to.
If you don’t make a will, your assets could end up not going to the people you want. For example, if the family home is in your name, your unmarried partner and stepchildren won’t automatically inherit the property if you die without a will.
2. You can identify guardians for your children
Your will doesn’t just let you decide who your assets should pass to when you pass away. It also allows you to express wishes to what will happen to your children when you’re no longer around.
If your dependents are under the age of 18, you can use your will to appoint legal guardians. If you don’t, the family court may end up having to decide, and they could choose a person you wouldn’t agree with.
3. It means less time and hassle for your family
A will makes it considerably easier for your family and friends to sort everything out when you die.
Without a will, the process can be more time-consuming and stressful, and it could take significant time before control of your assets passes to your loved ones.
4. It ensures nothing is “missed” when you die
If you die without a will, your family may struggle to deal with all the paperwork relating to your financial position. It’s easy for them to miss a previous pension, life insurance policy, or savings account as they deal with your estate.
If you make a will, you can clearly identify all your assets and who they should pass to when you’re no longer around. lt ensures your family don’t lose out on potentially significant assets because they simply can’t find them or don’t know they exist.
5. It can help avoid disputes when you’re no longer around
Sadly, dividing up an estate can lead to disputes and arguments between your beneficiaries.
The FT reports that the number of contested wills being heard at the High Court reached an all-time high in 2019, at 188 cases — an increase of 47% year-on-year.
As house prices and the value of estates rise, a growing number are seen by potential claimants as worth contesting.
Squabbles over your assets can permanently damage family relationships and end up costing thousands in legal fees. A well-written will can help to avoid such disputes.
6. It can help you to mitigate Inheritance Tax
The amount of Inheritance Tax your estate will pay depends on the value of your assets and who you leave them to.
For example, anything left to your spouse or civil partner will be automatically exempt from Inheritance Tax. And, if you leave a property to direct lineal descendants such as children or grandchildren, this could also reduce your Inheritance Tax liability.
Making a will and specifying what should happen to your assets when you die can help to make your estate plan as tax-efficient as possible.
Why you should update your will regularly
If you have made a will – great! It will help your loved ones when you’re no longer around.
However, making a will isn’t just a one-time job. It’s important that you regularly update it, so it remains appropriate for your needs.
For example, if you remarry, have children (or grandchildren) then you may want to change how your estate is distributed. Or, perhaps, you want to change one of your executors or someone named in your will dies before you.
Reviewing your will on a regular basis can ensure it’s always up to date. It’s also important to update things like your pension death benefit nominations to make sure that these are also passed to the right people when you’re no longer around.
Get in touch
If it’s time to write or update your will, or you want to have a wider estate planning conversation, please get in touch. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01454 416 653 to find out more.