A remarkable 59% of all adults don’t have a Will, let alone those that have one, but ought to update it.
(Source: Unbiased.co.uk, September 2016)
In general, not having a Will in place would mean that a person dies intestate, and while their spouse or civil partner would be the first person to ‘eventually’ benefit from the estate, they may not inherit all of it. If a couple aren’t married, or in a civil partnership, then it becomes even more problematic.
A Will speeds up the process
So, quite apart from not being able to ensure your loved ones receive the share of the estate you want them to, it’s also possible that the whole process is slowed down dramatically.
For many, it’s morbid to have to confront death, but surely you’d want to set out your various wishes. Such as how your wealth is distributed amongst your family (and friends – or charities), requests regarding your funeral, and who should receive items, such as specific jewellery, collectables and artworks. Beyond this, you may also want to outline any plans you may have for your pet(s).
Married couples may often opt for ‘mirror’ wills, meaning that both wills are the same, and leave their estates to each other.
Update an existing Will
If the last time you set out a will was 10-20 years ago, then much may have happened in the interim period, so it would make sense to re-visit this process.
For example, your own personal relationship may have changed, you may have more grandchildren to consider, or your finances may be markedly different. If nothing else, your views on who gets what, could have changed!
Also, did you know, that if you re-marry, then any existing will is deemed null and void, and without creating a new one, you’ll simply be subject to the laws of intestacy, as if you’d never had a will.
LASTING POWER OF ATTORNEY
This is a sensible legal agreement to have in place for yourself, or perhaps for your parents, and possibly essential when you consider that by 2025 more than 1m people in the UK are likely to have dementia.*
In England, for example, if someone loses their mental capacity, and their spouse, civil partner, friends or family want to help organise things for them; they are not allowed to do so without one. Similar rules apply elsewhere in the UK.
It’s for this reason that people have this arrangement in place ahead of any ‘mental capacity’ issues, enabling a swift transfer of responsibilities. There are two main elements to a Lasting Power of Attorney:
- Looking after the person’s property and financial issues.
- Looking after the person’s health and welfare.
Aside from the legal input to set it up, the person (or people) acting as someone’s ‘attorney’ don’t need to have any legal experience. Which means the task may be undertaken by a family member(s), or friend(s).
If someone lost their mental capacity and this wasn’t in place, an application would have to be made to the Court of Protection to become a Deputy. A process that can be a long, arduous and possibly costly one. So it’s far better to avoid this and have a Lasting Power of Attorney set up in advance.
(Source: *Alzheimer’s Society, www.alzheimers.org.uk, June 2017)
The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate Will writing or Trust advice.