Another successful Will Aid campaign ends; but the importance of having a Will continues
JFH Law collaborates with Will Aid campaign
The importance of having a Will cannot be emphasised enough. When you have spent a lot of time and hard work building up your assets, often of significant value, it makes sense to ensure they are left to the people you want them to go to. With so much at stake, having a valid Will is crucial. Whilst inexpensive ‘will kits’ are becoming more and more prevalent and regularly advertised in the online arena they should be approached with caution.
Everyone should consider making a Will; however if you fall into one or more of the following categories it is even more important for you to make one:
- Have children under the age 18;
- Have other dependants financially reliant on you;
- Own your own property;
- Have other valuable assets;
- Recently married or divorced;
- Are in a relationship but not married;
- Wish to exclude someone from benefiting from your estate; or
- Want to leave someone something who would not be entitled to your estate under intestacy rules (discussed below).
What are the intestacy rules?
Where a person dies without a valid Will, they are said to have died intestate and the rules of intestacy apply. These laws govern who is entitled to inherit assets in the absence of a valid Will based on the value of the estate on death and which family members survive the deceased. It should be noted that only certain groups of people within a prescribed order can inherit under the intestacy rules.
Where a person dies leaving a spouse/civil partner and children, the intestacy rules dictate that their estate is divided as follows:
The spouse/civil partner receives all assets up to the value of £250,000 and all personal possessions (regardless of their value). The remainder of the estate is split in half so that the spouse/civil partner obtains a life interest in one half and the other half is divided equally between the surviving children.
Examples of people who cannot inherit under the intestacy rules include unmarried partners, step-children, other relations by marriage, friends and charities.
So what are the benefits of having a will?
- minimise family conflicts by making your intentions clear;
- retain control because you decide how who gets what including people such as partners or friends that would not be entitled under the intestacy rules;
- you get to decide who will sort out the affairs of your estate by appointing your choice of executor(s);
- appoint guardians for children under the age of 18, and specify how you would like them to be raised or educated;
- stipulate your funeral wishes;
- make arrangements for your pets; and
- leave legacies to charities.
Keeping a Will up-to-date
Once you have made your Will, it is essential that you keep this under regular review and keep it updated especially if your circumstances in life change. You can make changes to your Will at any time provided that you have the mental capacity to do so at the time the changes are made. So if your assets change or if your family situation changes or you wish to leave something to another person your Will needs to be updated to reflect this.
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Jigna Vekaria, Solicitor