Writing a will is not obligatory and is often a task that people put off. It can prove stressful, time consuming and is, in general, a rather morbid subject. However, the repercussions of dying without leaving a valid will can be problematic and can ultimately leave your loved ones in a tricky position.
Here are the top reasons to make a will and why you should do so sooner rather than later:
Deciding who inherits what
Perhaps the most obvious reason to make a will before you die is to establish who inherits what once you’ve passed away. If you do not have a valid, legal will after your death, the government will decide who inherits your possessions, your property and your money. For peace of mind, it’s better to take control of your inheritance before you die to save time and stress further down the line.
By making a will, you can decide exactly who gets what and it can help to avoid unnecessary arguments among your loved ones that can arise when a will is neglected.
Reducing your Inheritance Tax
Having a legal and valid will written before your death means you can significantly reduce any Inheritance Tax you pay on your estate; it can even totally eliminate the tax altogether. Put simply, Inheritance Tax must be paid after death if a person’s property, money or possessions is worth more than the ‘nil rate band’ when they die, which currently stands at 40%. By writing a will before you die, you could avoid tax completely, leaving more money for your loved ones.
Appointing legal guardians
Making a will is particularly important if you have children under the legal age to live alone. Your will can outline appointed guardians to care for your children should you die before they’re legally old enough to be self-responsible. Without a will, the authorities will decide who cares for your children and they may not choose the people you’d prefer. In some cases, it’s been known for a deceased’s partner (whom they weren’t married to) to not gain guardianship of the children even though they were the natural parent.
Most people appoint a family member as their children’s guardian, particularly if the children are young. On occasion, close family friends are noted as legal guardians in a will, mostly for children that are slightly older and approaching the legal age of 18. It’s often encouraged to appoint two legal guardians in your will who live together and are partners or married to ensure your children have a settled, family environment to enter during a difficult period.
You can include donations to organisations or charities in your will and so making one before you die means you can be specific about what you’d like to donate, be it money or even a valuable item such as a piece of jewellery. Plus, any charity donations you make in your will are free from Inheritance Tax.
By having a legal will written by the time of your death, it can speed up access to your assets and means any money set aside for your funeral can be got to quicker by your loved ones so that they won’t have to use their own funds. Within your will, you can state any preferences or wishes for your funeral, such as whether you want to be buried or cremated or even what hymns and readings you would like. This means your funeral can be a truly personal event, something that your family and friends will appreciate during a difficult time.
Setting up trusts
Writing a will allows you to set up trusts for your children’s inheritance and gives you some control over your estate once you’ve passed. A trust is a legal arrangement that’s often used to hold assets for children until they’ve reached an age to receive them. This can be money, property or possessions and allows your children to not miss out once you’ve passed away. You can, again, also reduce your Inheritance Tax liability by outlining a trust in your will or indeed eliminate it totally.