Why make a Will?
A Will is a tool that gives you control over what happens to your money, possessions and property after you die.
Providing for loved ones
Many people assume their possessions will automatically pass to loved ones. The fact is the only certain way to ensure that your spouse, partner or relative inherits is by making a Will. If you die without making a Will the intestacy rules apply in an arbitrary manner.
The intestacy rules do not currently recognise co-habitees who are unmarried and not in a civil partnership. For example if you live with your partner and die without a Will your partner will not automatically inherit any of your estate. The estate will pass to your surviving family – children, parents, brothers and sisters - your partner will have to make a claim, obtain separate legal representation and potentially fight in order to obtain a share in the estate. This can be distressing and expensive and can be easily avoided by the preparation of a Will.
Appointment of guardians
If you have children under the age of 18 you can appoint guardians in your Will to care for them should both parents die.
Passing on your assets
Personal items such as jewellery and heirlooms can be passed on in your Will in several ways, one of which is by reference to an informal letter of wishes. You can benefit charities free of inheritance tax. Larger estates can benefit from a reduced rate of inheritance tax of 36% (usually 40%) if, subject to certain rules, more than 10% of the estate if left to charity.
Wills can be used to provide for complex family arrangements, for example, to include children from previous relationships. A Will can give a second spouse the right to occupy the family home while protecting the capital for children of any earlier relationship. This will ensure that the assets will not pass outside the immediate family and may pre-empt potential challenges to the distribution of the estate.
An ageing population means that tens of thousands of homes are sold each year to fund the cost of residential care. A carefully drafted Will can provide that a share of the family home passes into a trust on first death, which may give the survivor a right to occupy. With care, such a trust will ensure that the capital will be preserved and pass to the intended beneficiaries. A trust of this type can be drafted flexibly to allow the survivor to "down-size" or move property.
These are just a few points to consider. Many Wills are straightforward and simple to prepare but all have unique personal circumstances that need to be taken into account. A badly drafted Will can have unintended consequences that can lead to difficulties for those left behind so it is important to use a reputable and qualified practitioner.
For further information or an appointment contact Tracey Jordan at Norton Peskett, 141 King Street, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk NR30 2PQ telephone 01493 849200. Alternatively email firstname.lastname@example.org. Home visits and complimentary 20 minute initial advice service also available.