Everyone over 18 should make a Will. In short, a Will is a legal document that explains what you’d like to happen to your property, money, and possessions after your death. It doesn’t have to be drawn up or witnessed by a solicitor, but that is best practice (because a badly-worded Will might cause more problems than it solves). There are many professional will writers who can help too.
What’s most important, is that you have something specific put down in writing – and, of course, that you make sure your family know where the original is being stored. Here are five of the best reasons, not just good reasons, for making a Will.
- YOU CAN PROVIDE FOR YOUR CHILDREN
It’s not such a worry when you’re older. But if you have younger children now – even if they’re in secondary school or college – it makes sense to make plans that provide for their future financially (for grandchildren, too).
That might include putting money aside for education, or setting up a small trust to give them a nest egg for buying a home. Those plans can all be part of a Will, specifically in a Will Trust.
In addition, UK law states that only spouses or blood relatives can automatically inherit from your estate if you haven’t made a Will. So if you want step-children or foster children to benefit in any way, then you definitely need to write a Will that includes them.
- YOU CAN HELP YOUR FAMILY AT A STRESSFUL TIME
Dividing up an estate can lead to a stressful, un-necessary period of in-fighting if your wishes aren’t clear. A well-written Will can help your family to avoid contentious issues completely. What’s more, when you write down what you’d like to happen, your family has a plan they can follow. That makes everything much easier. There’s less to think about. And, even if there are questions about your wishes, there’s a guide that can help a solicitor (or a court) to understand what your intentions were.
- YOU CAN SAVE MONEY
Writing a will can save a lot of money on inheritance tax, or ‘IHT’. At the moment, if your estate is worth more than £325,000, then – unless you’re married or you’ve made alternative arrangements – your family will have to pay 40% of its worth, to the Treasury, in tax, before they can access any of the value themselves.
By talking things through with a financial adviser and a soliciter, you can often make arrangements that will help to minimise the amount of IHT that’s due. It’s all part of life’s normal financial planning, much like taking out a funeral plan.
- YOU CAN PROTECT YOUR FAMILY HOME
Believe it or not, unmarried partners and step-children don’t automatically inherit a property if you die without making a Will. Writing a will makes sure that your partner will have what you wanted them to, and that they’ll be able to stay in your – their – family home.
More to the point, a Will can explain what you’d like to happen to your children if they’re very young. You can name a guardian and leave instructions on how money should be used for their welfare.
- YOU CAN SUPPORT A CHARITY (AND REDUCE YOUR IHT)
Whichever charities you’ve supported over the years, it’s worth thinking about using your Will to leave a legacy – large or small. Of course, it’s up to you what you leave and which charity should benefit. But charitable donations can be a useful part of sound financial planning.
If you do leave something to charity, then it doesn’t count towards the total taxable value of your estate. It’s called a ‘charitable legacy’. And – as long as that legacy is at least 10% of your net worth – then the rate of IHT due on on the rest of your estate falls from 40% to 36%.
Making a Will is sound financial planning, just like making end-of-life plans, and it may cost much less than you imagined.