Why make a Will?Everyone likes to get their
own way, and making a will ensures that even after you've passed
away, your wishes are carried out exactly as you wanted and your
loved ones are taken care of.
If people die without a will, they are said to be "intestate" and their assets will be divided among their family in accordance with the law.
However, the rules of intestacy only apply to spouses or blood relatives and no provision will be made for a live-in partner or stepchildren, meaning you need a will if you want such people to receive any of your property or possessions. This is becoming increasingly important at a time when there are a greater variety of family set-ups than ever.
As well as ensuring that your assets pass into the right hands, a will means you'll be leaving your estate in the most tax efficient way, so as much as possible finds its way into the hands of the people you care about.
But a will is not just about property and assets; it's about something much more important - your offspring. Having a will means you can make provisions for your child to be brought up by appropriate guardians while ensuring you still have a say in the way they are brought up.
You know who the people most important to you in the world are,
but can you expect those handling your property, possessions and
money should the worst happen to know too?
Unless you have a will, when you pass away you will be 'intestate' which means that your property and assets will be distributed among your relatives in accordance with the law.
Husbands and wives and civil partners are given precedence, followed by any children, then surviving parents and brothers and sisters then other relatives such as grandchildren, nieces and nephews and aunts and uncles.
The laws of intestacy don't regard half brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews as the same as full ones, meaning if you would like them to be considered the same you need to name them in a will.
If a person has no surviving relatives the estate simply passes into the hands of the Crown, meaning it is owned by the Queen.
While intestacy may mean that your relatives are taken care of in the event of your death, it does not consider any of your other nearest and dearest who you may wish to leave something to.
The only way to guarantee that all of your assets end up exactly where you want is to make a will.
Making a will is the best way of knowing our children get what
they need if we die.
If you own a home with your husband or wife, they may get your share of it when you're gone. If they remarried and you hadn't made a will, your share could go to the new husband or wife if the person you were married to died, which could mean your children get nothing.
If you're unmarried, your children get everything of yours when you die. To leave anything to step-children, you must make a will as the law doesn't allow for them. Without a will, your children and step-children can ask for some of your money if they're under 18 and haven't enough, but the courts probably wouldn't give them as much as you would.
You can also leave your spouse a "life interest" in your will. This might mean they carry on living in the matrimonial house when you die but your children will inherit it. This is useful for second marriages.
A will lets you choose "guardians" for your children. If you die without doing this and your children are under 18, the court will appoint people, but they may not be who you'd choose.
Moving in together is exciting, but if you're not married it's
very important to make a will.
If you own a house with someone but you're not married - even if it's been that way for 50 years - what happens when you die depends on whether you're "joint tenants" or "tenants in common". If it's "joint tenants", your share in the house would pass on automatically to the person you live with. If you're "tenants in common", it wouldn't. Without a will you'd be what the law calls "intestate". This means everything that's yours would be distributed according to intestacy laws which doesn't include unmarried live-in partners.
Your boyfriend or girlfriend might be able to ask the courts for a share in your money or the house if they felt "reasonable financial provision" hadn't been made for them, but you'd have to have lived together for at least two years, or they'd have to show you were supporting them financially.
A court case could make things tricky between your girlfriend or boyfriend and your family, and even if they did get something it would probably be less than you'd want. So the best thing is to make a will and leave whatever you want for them in it.
If you don't make a will your relatives would have to apply to
the courts to share out your "estate" - your money and possessions.
This would cost them a lot more than if you'd made a will and would
also probably mean paying more Inheritance Tax.
Also, if you haven't made a will and you aren't married, have no civil partner and no blood relatives, everything that's yours will go straight to the tax man!
If you haven't made a will and have children under 18, and their other parent is also dead, you lose the right to decide who looks after them.
Or if your husband or wife's health gets worse after you're gone and they need to go into a care home, if you hadn't made a will, you wouldn't be able to make sure they would get the benefit of your money rather than the local authority.
And if you had a boyfriend or girlfriend you lived with but weren't married to, they won't get anything if you hadn't made a will.
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