There are many reasons why you should make a valid will and by that we mean one that has been properly drawn up and signed and witnessed correctly to avoid the possibility of legal action by contested probate solicitors.
One in two people in the UK currently dies without making a will and if you haven’t done so already, it’s a really good idea to prepare one. If you die without making a will and you have no surviving relatives, then your entire estate goes to the Crown. In addition:
It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind – You may not want to pay a lawyer to draw up a Will, but it may be a relatively small price to save your family a lot of paperwork afterwards. In addition, a properly prepared will should avoid the potential of legal action by contested probate solicitors at a later stage. If you employ a lawyer costs vary depending on the firm, its location and the complexity of your will. It’s always difficult to talk to those close to you about death – a lawyer may be easier to talk to about such sensitive matters such as funeral arrangements etc.
Complicated affairs – generally having a Will is better than having no Will, so make a Will by all means, but bear in mind that if your life is complicated, in ways not explored in most do-it-yourself Will-making processes, you would do well to play safe and to see a Solicitor, who will make far more money from sorting out a contested probate than they ever make when drafting a new will.
Wills are not just for the rich and the reason the rich use a lawyer to prepare a will rather than a DIY kit is that they don’t want the risk of contested probate solicitors being necessary after their death bearing in mind the substantial assets at stake. In fact, with property prices rising so rapidly, even those with modest assets can be stung for inheritance tax. Any estate, and that includes the value of everything from the few pounds you have in a savings account to your car, jewellery and the contents of your home, as well as the property itself is subject to inheritance tax. Even if you don’t think your assets amount to enough to justify making a will, house price inflation could mean your estate is liable in future.
Failing to make a will leaves those you love with a big problem to sort out – losing you was hard enough for them. Don’t put them through any further unnecessary pain.
Don’t let the state decide what happens to your assets when you die. There’s a risk that you’ll be handing more money than you need to the Government in inheritance tax instead of to those you love.
If you’re unmarried, your partner could get nothing and could indeed be thrown out of your home should you die (if the home was in your name only) as co-habitees have no legal rights to inherit.
Planning ahead can save an inheritance tax liability – Your child will inherit your property, but not all of your estate if it’s liable for inheritance tax. Planning ahead, however, can save an inheritance tax liability, as you could start to pass assets to him or her before your death. It’s a myth that only the rich pay inheritance tax yet it’s avoidable. Writing a will is an ideal time to draw up a list of your assets, so your solicitor or financial adviser can recommend ways of avoiding inheritance tax.
Make things easy for the executor – Leaving a list of your assets and liabilities is the least you can do to the person you appoint to sort out your estate and make sure your wishes are carried out after your death. Many parents nominate their spouse and eldest child or children as executors. It’s advisable to appoint two executors, in case one dies before you, and then ideally they should be younger than you. Solicitors can act in this capacity but will charge. Executors can be beneficiaries under the will, but a beneficiary or their spouse must not witness the will or they will lose the gift. They can also claim expenses for carrying out the task. Check that any relative or friend you appoint as executor is happy to do so, there’s a lot of paperwork and time involved in arranging the funeral and dealing with probate such as collecting money owed to you and paying your debts.