No one likes to contemplate their own death, or the death of their loved ones and this is why many people put off making a will.
Why Should I have a will?
Everyone should have a professionally prepared will. It is estimated that around one third of people in the UK die without having made a valid will and without one the cost and time taken to administer your estate after your death could increase signficantly. It could also lead to additional worry and stress for your loved ones during an already difficult time.
The advantages of making a will are numerous. By making a will you decide what happens to your property and possessions after your death. It is the only way you can ensure your estate is passed onto the people you wish. Seeking expert advice can also help you to minimise the portion of inheritance tax that is paid on your death.
While it is easy to delay the preparation of a will, the benefits of having a professionally prepared will cannot be underestimated.
Can I draft my Own Will?
Although it is possible to make a will yourself, this is not advisable. For example the forms you can fill in online can look simple but it is very easy to make a mistake which can invalidate the will. There are numerous legal requirements which must be complied with in order to make a will valid. If these requirements are not fulfilled the validity of the will can be challenged and this can result in a lengthy and expensive process. In addition it can result in the will being considered unacceptable and this will result in your estate being dealt with by the laws of intestacy rather than how you would have wished.
What happens if I die without making a will?
Dying without a Will can lead to many problems and can cause a great deal of delay, expense and distress to your loved ones who are left to deal with your estate. if you die without leaving a valid will instead of your estate being divided as you would have wanted your estate is distributed uner the laws of intestacy. This can result in complications and the laws of intestacy do not adequately account for modern family situations, for example:-
It can result in huge problems for unmarried partners, particularly where children are involved. If you are living together with your partner but are not married your partner does not have automatic right to your assets;
Even if you are married the whole estate does not necessarily go to the surviving husband or wife;
If you die with no will and have no relatives your estate will pass to the crown;
If you have children and have no will or nominated guardians for your children then the court will decide who will look after them if you pass away;
The laws of intestacy do not make provision for children from a previous marriage or step families;
It can open up the possibility of long and protracted legal battles between friends, partners and relatives;
When there is no will you cannot state at which age you wish young beneficiaries to inherit, For example, if you have young grandchildren you could state in your will that you do not wish them to inherit until they reach the age of 21 - if there is no will they will be able to inherit at 16;
Without a will your wishes are completely ignored;
Additional costs and delays are incurred when winding up an intestate estate.
What is an Executor?
Making a will allows you to nominate a suitable person to deal with your affairs when you pass away, someone you know and trust. This person is responsible for winding up matters. It is a common misconception that the executor cannot benefit from the estate but this is not the case. For instance your spouse can be your executor and they can also be the sole beneficiary of your estate. If you do not have a vaild will the court will appoint an executor based on the laws of intestacy rather than on your personal preference.
Your will does not take effect until your death and therefore it is possible to make amendments to your will at any point in the future. In fact, it is strongly recommended that your will should be reviewed every few years or on any change of personal circumstances, for example, marriage in the family, children, grandchildren, or nieces and nephews. Perhaps someone who is named in your will has passed away or you simply no longer wish to have them named as a beneficiary.
Making a Will is simple, inexpensive and not time consuming, yet the benefits of having a will are significant. Not only will you have peace of mind that it is the people who you have chosen that will both deal with and benefit from your estate, but also that your loved ones will not have the added stress and costs involved with dealing with an intestate estate. There are many problems associated with dying without a will.
We have 5 offices throughout Ayrshire which all have expertise in the preparation of Wills. Our offices are based in Saltcoats, West Kilbride, Irvine, Largs and Kilwinning and we have private client solicitors available to meet with you in all of our offices. If you wish to make a will in Ayrshire then Taylor & Henderson will provide expertise and friendly and efficient service. We are the largest law firm in North Ayrshire and we have helped many clients with the preparation of their wills.