Why Make A Will?

  • The simple answer is choice
  • If you make a Will then you call the shots, if not the government will

What happens if I don’t make a Will?

If you do not make a will, then you leave the following to the arbitrary intestacy rules:

  • The devolution of your estate
  • The incidence of tax
  • Quite possibly the future of your children

In the case of infant children, you are possibly trusting them to the good care of the local Social Services.  
Surprisingly only around 30% of the population ever makes a Will.  We hear many reasons for not making a Will, including:

  • “I’m not going to die”
  • “It’s morbid”
  • “I don’t need to because I know what will happen”
  • “I’ve got nothing to leave”

Give yourself the power of choice

If you make a Will then you choose:

  • Who your Executors and Trustees will be.  These are critical appointments because the Executors will:
    • Deal with all the legal aspects of your estate
    • Pay off debts, taxes, legacies and so on
    • Ensure that the provisions of the Will are carried out in full 
      They are answerable to the Court, and if not lawyers themselves, they would normally instruct lawyers to assist.  If trusts are created, for example, for infant children, the Executors usually become Trustees and manage the trust until it is time to pay it out
  • Guardians. As a couple if you die leaving an infant child, you can choose who will bring your child or those children up, rather than leave it to others to make that choice for you
  • The passing of your estate.  You decide who gets what and when. At the same time you can choose to make a tax efficient Will, ensuring that the maximum passes to your dependants rather than to the taxman

What does dying “intestate” really mean?

  • If you do not make a Will, then you die ‘intestate’
  • Do you really know what that means? 

If you die intestate with an estate of, say, £400,000, what would happen?  It does depend upon who survives you.   If you have no children then your estate passes to your husband or wife, but if you leave a child then it becomes quite complicated. 

Under the intestacy rules your surviving spouse will receive your personal chattels and £250,000.  What is left is divided into two:

  • Half going to the child at once if they are 18 or over and in trust if they are not
  • The other half going in trust for the spouse, passing to the child on the spouse’s death

Because a trust arises, two Trustees are required and so if the child is an infant, you will probably need to rope in Uncle Fred or cousin Charlie.
Suppose:

  • You are married and or in a civil partnership and there are no children
  • You have worked hard and have left an estate of, say, £600,000
  • You would prefer that that £600,000 went, free of tax, to your surviving spouse or civil partner

Well, if you do not make a Will, it will not.  The surviving spouse or civil partner will take personal chattels and £450,000, and half the remainder.  
The other half may go to your parents, or if there are none, to your brothers and sisters, or to nephews and nieces. Remember, this applies:

  • Whether you like those relatives or not
  • Whether you think it is appropriate or not

By not making a Will, you put yourself into the hands of the Intestacy Rules - which most people agree are not very attractive.

Why it’s crucial to get your Will right

  • Lawyers often get criticised for using jargon in legal documents
  • Wills are no exception
  • This is because certain words become “terms of art” – i.e. there can be no dispute over what these words mean

Getting in touch

To find out more, please contact David Endicott on 01295 204005 or email dendicott@se-law.co.uk