Published by: Alex Drake

Don't have a Will – others could live to regret it!

According to research by a leading pension provider more than half the population doesn't have a Will. More worryingly it also found that 22% of people over 65 are without a Will. As death is not an option it is worth taking the trouble to ensure your affairs are in order.

If you don't have a Will, you are leaving it to the Government to decide what will happen to your estate after your death. The Intestacy Rules, which apply when you don't have a Will, are rigid and inflexible and may well produce a result which is not what you would want or expect.

There is no room in the Intestacy Rules for unmarried partners, friends or even charities.  Even if you are married, you may think that everything will simply go to your spouse but this is not always the case.

If you leave a spouse and children and don't have a Will, then only £250,000 is passed to your spouse.  If the assets in your sole name exceed that amount then half of the residue passes to your children and only the remaining half to the surviving spouse.

If you leave a spouse but no children then the entire estate does pass to your spouse and if you leave children but no spouse, then the entire estate is divided equally between those children.

Many people are not aware that if a couple are not married then any children would inherit everything if one parent were to die. This sometimes results in the distressing spectacle of the surviving parent having to fight their children in Court for a share of the estate.

By writing a Will you can make the right provision for your family, friends, your favourite charities and even your pets! Your estate can be managed more effectively, saving money and possible squabbles over property.

Writing a Will also provides scope for inheritance tax planning. If the estate is to be divided between a number of beneficiaries it is possible, and often happens, that the taxman is actually the largest single beneficiary of an estate! The question therefore is who do you wish to benefit more – your family or the state? Careful Will drafting and making use of exemptions and allowances available, can help to reduce the tax bill considerably

Poorly drawn Wills can be worse than having no Will at all and can lead to long and expensive court cases, so use an expert, it’s worth it.