A Will is a legal document that comes into effect on your death. By making a Will you are deciding who should look after your affairs after you’ve died. You also decide who should benefit from the estate and who should not.
Having a Will can speed up the administration process and reduce administration costs, make provision for an unmarried partner, help preserve assets which would otherwise be used to fund care home fees, set out your funeral wishes, and look after the needs of minor children.
If you die without making a Will you’re said to have died ‘intestate’, and the rules of intestacy will apply.
They set out who would administer a person’s estate and who would benefit. For example:
- the surviving spouse of a civil partner would only receive a portion of the estate
- a co-habiting partner wouldn’t receive anything, regardless of how long the relationship had lasted
The intestacy provisions are complex and can make the administration of a person’s estate more expensive.
Who should make a Will?
Everyone over the age of 18 should make a Will. Even if you have made a Will you should review it regularly to make sure it reflects your circumstances.
In addition, if any of the following life changes apply, you should consider making or amending your Will:
- Getting married– marriage automatically cancels a Will unless that Will specifically states that it’s been made in contemplation of that marriage. If it doesn’t, or you’ve not made a Will, the rules of intestacy will apply, and your spouse or civil partner may only receive a portion of the estate.
- Cohabitation– unmarried partners don’t benefit at all under the rules of intestacy. Therefore, if you cohabit with someone, and you want them to benefit from your estate after your death, you should make a Will.
- Getting divorced– the effect of a divorce on a Will means that any gift to a spouse or civil partner fails, but only when the decree absolute has been made. Therefore, if you have separated from your spouse or civil partner you should amend your Will so that they don’t benefit from your estate should anything happen to you before your divorce.
- Becoming a parent– if you’re a parent, or are to become one, you should amend your Will to make sure your child or children will be looked after following your death. If you don’t set this out and an agreement can’t be made, your child(ren) would be subject to court proceedings, and the court would decide with whom your child(ren) should live.
- Receiving a windfall– if you come into some money, whether through an inheritance, a lottery win or gift, your estate may be subject to an inheritance tax liability. A properly constructed Will can minimise an inheritance tax liability for future generations.
Up to 50% of current Wills are outdated, for example, by marriage or divorce, which could mean that entirely the wrong people benefit in those cases. Your Will should be reviewed every two years as a matter of course.
Thomas and Cooper Legal Services Ltd provide Wills in Shepshed, Coalville, Loughborough and all across Leicestershire and Derbyshire. We travel you or you can visit our office in Shepshed.