What Are the Benefits of Making a Will?
The number of stories of families falling out over will disputes is staggering, and indeed, the concept has become the backdrop for a number of crime stories across the decades.
Inheritance and the feeling of fairness between family members can have a huge impact on lives, with repercussions going on for years and even decades later.
At Compare UK Quotes, we recommend visiting Wills.Services today to start the process of writing a will; one that ensures your estate is dealt with in a way that fully represents your final wishes.
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A will is a legal document that states your wishes regarding what should happen to your estate (such as your property, money and all other assets) after your death, including who should inherit what.
If you die without a will (known as dying intestate), your property, money and possessions fall under the rules of intestacy, which means they could end up going to someone you didn’t intend on leaving them to, or worse, they could end up being liquidated and lost before reaching the hands of your loved ones.
See our guide to intestacy rules for a full explanation of how dying intestate could affect your estate and the loved ones you leave behind.
But it’s not just distributing your heirlooms and favourite photos that encompass your will – there are several very serious implications to dying without a valid will in place.
Make a will online today with Wills.Services and give yourself the peace of mind that you deserve.
Why is it important to write a will? You give yourself peace of mind, you protect your loved ones, you avoid family disputes, and you can guarantee that your estate will be handled in a way that is in-line with your final wishes.
1 - Protecting your children and loved ones
Before you even give the first consideration to the monetary value of your assets, it is important you look to the people you are responsible for – otherwise known as your dependants.
If you have children under 16, then it is important to list in your will your desires for them in terms of living arrangements, passing on parental responsibility and guardianship. In a marriage, the children would automatically stay with their other parent, but in cases where the parents have separated and a child-arrangements order is in place, the death of one parent may result in the children suddenly finding themselves living with the other when that isn’t the ideal situation.
It could also be the tragic case that an accident happens that robs the children of both their parents – if you die without a will in place, they could end up housed with people you do not want them to live with.
Clearly stating if you wish to pass on your parental responsibility to another, and any other wishes you have regarding your children’s upbringing is important.
The following are some examples of situations where determining your child’s future in your will may be important:
- You live unmarried with your partner who is a step-parent to your children and want to make sure that, on your death, the children can stay in situ and continue their life with your partner as their main parent.
- You are separated from the children’s other parent and despite them having parental responsibility, you worry about the children in their care and would rather they live full-time with your parents, or another relative.
- You assume that your children will remain with your spouse (their other parent), but you both die together, and the children are left without a defined home and relations fighting over responsibility.
- Your children came from different relationships and you fear siblings will be split apart in the case of your death, each sent to their respective other parent.
- You do not wish your children to live with a specific relative in the case of a tragedy where their parents die but technically, this relative is your next of kin and could obtain guardianship by default.
- You wish your children to continue being brought up with your religious beliefs, but other potential guardians do not share your religion.
It is also emotionally important that the children know that you were thinking of them and that you had their future in mind when you made the will.
If something happens to them that they neither wanted nor expected, and they discover that you simply didn’t bother to take the time to make sure their lives were secure, it may harm their memory of you and their own lives going forward.
2 – Ensuring the security of those you leave behind
Making sure that your affairs are in order means that the family home, the funds which dictate your family’s day-to-day life and any plans you have in place for the future are all dealt with in the right way.
If you do not have a will, the rules of intestacy could mean that your family get nothing and lose their home to a family member who doesn’t have their best interests at heart. This is especially true if you are not married – by intestate law, an unmarried partner is not entitled to anything, and they could easily lose their home and even their children if your will does not make sure they are looked after.
Make it clear in your will how you want your home and general finances divided and prevent any potential problems before they arise.
If the rules of intestacy must take effect, the inheritance rights of children in the UK might mean that they do not qualify for as much of your estate as you would like. If your estate is worth under £270,000 and you have a surviving married or civil partner, the children would inherit £0. The only way to guarantee that they receive some inheritance from the estate you leave behind is to write a legally valid will. Getting a life insurance policy is also another option (explained in more detail later).
3 – Making sure your money goes where you want it to
The most obvious part of making a will is to make sure your estate (a term which means the collection of all your assets, whether they are property, possessions, shares, or actual cash) is divided as you truly want.
There is a great deal of emotion tied up regarding inheritance, and arguments over who was supposed to get what can wreck relationships permanently – sometimes over the smallest thing, such as your wedding ring, or a favoured memento. Conflicts that begin “Mum always intended for me to have that!”, or “Dad promised that to me!” can last for decades and harbour resentments that never leave.
By simply going through all your important possessions and listing who you would like to have them in the event of your passing, you can prevent many inheritance disputes between your loved ones.
It is also advisable to discuss your intentions with your loved ones before you die so that there are no surprises.
If you write a will with the help of a professional will writing service or solicitor, you will also usually get some help with inheritance tax planning. Read our guide to inheritance tax and how you could avoid it legally for more information.
4 – Making provision for pets in a will
It may seem unimportant to some, but without any specific instructions or provisions regarding your pets, it is easy for them to end up in a rescue centre or worse.
With family members quick to distance themselves from the responsibility of pets, it would be kind to both the pets themselves, and the family members who would genuinely love to look after your animals, to make sure they go to the right place.
You may also want to consider leaving a small amount of money to go along with your pets to help with the financial impact they will bring, which would make the whole process a lot easier for the person left with the responsibility of taking care of your fur-friend.
5 – Having the funeral you want
Making your funeral wishes known in your will is important – not only to give you the send-off that you wanted, but also to ease the stress placed upon your loved ones as they try to arrange a funeral for you.
Many people have a very specific idea in their head regarding their funeral arrangements and the way their body is used after death – and yours may not be in line with the person who is ultimately left with making the decision, which is why you must state your preferences within your will.
Learn more: The Rising Cost of Funerals in the UK
Every aspect that is important to you should be covered, from whether you want your body to be used for medical science or whether you want a traditional burial, to the types of flowers you like and the music you’d appreciate being played at the memorial.
Depending on the arrangements you would like to be made, it can also be expensive and leaving that cost as a burden for your family is unfair. Try to make sure there is enough in your estate to cover those costs and allow your family to grieve and say goodbye without falling into debt.
Read our guide on the Average Cost of a Funeral for more specific detail on the prices of burials and cremations in the UK.
One of the main benefits of a will is that it helps you take the time to properly consider your estate (and its value) and the impact that the law is going to have on it.
In the UK, inheritance tax will have to be paid as 40% on all assets over the value of £325,000 (the current nil rate band in 2020) – that’s a £30,000 inheritance tax bill on an estate worth £400,000, for example – but there are ways you can reduce this impact on your estate and your heirs.
How to reduce inheritance tax through careful planning
When you write your will with a solicitor, you can control how your assets will be shared. A good solicitor will be able to offer advice here to reduce or avoid inheritance tax as much as possible – they should be listened to because all help that they give will be completely legal and it is a sensible way of considering your assets.
Read more: How to Avoid Inheritance Tax Legally
Consider life insurance to pay an expected inheritance tax bill
Taking out life insurance cover that is put into trust can provide a cash sum for your heirs to cover the inheritance tax bill without having to liquidate any assets. This is especially useful if the majority of your estate is represented in the family home which would have to be sold to cover the inheritance tax bill.
Don’t leave your grieving and vulnerable family members having to find a new home when a reasonably-priced insurance policy, costing just a few pounds every month, could secure their current one.
Bear in mind that the executor of your will is in-charge of handling the inheritance tax and all other financial issues when you pass away, so inheritance tax planning provides them with a useful head-start on what would otherwise be a stressful task. See our guide to dealing with finances after death to find out exactly what will executors are required to do when the time comes.
A lot of advice can be given regarding your will and how to make sure your assets end up in the right place, but one of the great benefits of having a will is the amount of emotional wellbeing that comes with it.
If you die without a will, your family are suddenly left bereft. There are no final words to cling on to, no true understanding of your wishes, no clues as to how you wanted your estate to be distributed, and nothing to fill the void where you used to be. Though a will is obviously written well in advance of your actual death, a lot of grieving loved ones will find a level of emotional assurance in it.
Your will lets them know that you were thinking of them. It can show a closeness of your bond as you go through your minor possessions and heirlooms and leave them to the people you know would appreciate them for their emotional value, as well as the monetary value in some cases.
Writing a will is especially important for your children, who are bound to have some disagreement regarding their parent no matter their age – your children do not stop being children just because they are in their 40s with families of their own! By providing a record of your choices, you can cut off disagreements in their early stages and allow your children to come together in their grief rather than using the situation as a reason to push apart.
Remember – you are not limited to simply listing items and their beneficiaries, it is your will and the odd piece of commentary and personal touch in there is likely to bring a smile with a pleasant memory to your family.
How Compare UK Quotes can help
No one likes to consider their own death. As a culture, we tend to veer away from it, but avoiding making a comprehensive will could lead to intestacy or a long probate process. It’s far better to put your affairs in order, knowing that even a sudden accident doesn’t leave your family uprooted and struggling.
If you’re ready to start thinking about the prospect of writing your will, head over to Wills.Services today and make full use of their professional and affordable will writing services.