WHY MAKE A WILL?
Who would look after your children if you died? This is important for one-parent families and unmarried couples. A Will nominating guardians is invaluable in such cases. Without it no-one knows what you wanted, and the Court will decide the future of your children. Contact us now to arrange your Will.
Without a Will, the law decides what happens to your estate – and the outcome might come as a surprise. In 2012 there were over 295,000 intestacy cases. In 44% of these, the partner didn’t fully inherit or inherited nothing at all. Only married or civil partners, as well as a few very close relatives, are able to claim inheritance under the rules of Intestacy. A Will is vital to your family’s future security.
Not having a Will means you could leave your family with months and possibly years of financial hardship whilst they try and sort out your affairs:
- You could leave your partner nothing
- You could leave your spouse only part of everything you own leaving the rest subject to inheritance tax.
- Your children could inherit nothing if your home is sold to pay for the costs of long-term care.
- Your children could inherit the remainder of your estate with authority to enforce the sale of any part of it (including the home) to realise their inheritance. If they get divorced, their ex-spouses could claim part of your estate.
- You could end up giving HM Revenue & Customs money that could have gone to your family.
- Your bank or solicitor could end up being a major beneficiary of your estate because they will have to be paid to sort out the mess.
If you don’t have a Will, Intestacy Rules apply:
Married with children
Spouse gets first £250,000 plus personal possessions plus half of the remaining assets. The children get the second half of the remaining assets.
Married without children
Spouse gets the entire estate including personal possessions.
Single/unmarried with children
All to children (or their children) at 18 or earlier on marriage. Partner gets nothing.
Single/unmarried without children
To parents, then siblings, then their children at 18, then half-siblings, then their children at 18, then grandparents, then full uncles and aunts, then their children at 18, to half blood uncles and aunts, then their children at 18, then to HM the Queen. Partner gets nothing.
Problems with Intestacy Rules
Delays of up to 2 years whilst processing an estate through intestacy are not unusual
- Unmarried partners are totally excluded
- Someone (usually a family court) decides who to appoint as guardians for your children – meanwhile, they are often made wards of court and put into care
- Someone (often a solicitor) has to look after the capital and income of the estate if a child is under 18
- Your children could get their inheritance at 18. Will they make responsible choices?
- Step-children inherit nothing
- The surviving spouse may not have full access to the capital
- Inheritance tax (IHT) may be payable on 1st death as the whole estate didn’t pass to the spouse
- The home may have to be sold to pay off the children or to pay IHT
- Jointly held assets pass automatically to survivor, BUT through the youngest co-owner’s estate on simultaneous death
- Family home not protected from claims by the Local Authority to pay for long-term care costs
Perhaps you already have a Will. Does it cover these situations?
- Your surviving partner enters a new relationship or [re-]marries after your death
- Your surviving partner subsequently goes through a costly divorce settlement or separation
- Your beneficiaries become bankrupt and their creditors claim your estate
- Your surviving partner enters long-term care
- You have a disabled or vulnerable child who may lose their benefits or waste their inheritance
- Your estate is over the tax-free threshold but you have failed to protect it from the tax man
- You have business assets and have failed to protect the tax relief on these
Authorised and Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority
Will writing services in England & Wales are currently an unregulated legal activity which means that anyone can offer a Will writing service regardless of whether they are insured, experienced or qualified to make a legally valid Will.
Stephens Wilmot Limited is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), giving you peace of mind knowing that your Will is being written and stored correctly by a legally regulated organisation.