Here’s a true story. Tony (not his real name) was a widower with two daughters. He had always intended to leave them his house when he died and had made a will to that effect.
He then got married later in life and the house was owned jointly by him and his wife. When he died the daughters were shocked to find that the house automatically went to his new wife. In effect, it was as though he had never made a will.
This is an extreme (but not uncommon) case that highlights why everybody needs an up-to-date will. Without it, the law, not you, decides how your estate will be divided. Your hard-earned wealth may end up in the hands of people you wouldn’t have wanted to have it.
A will doesn’t just document your wishes when it comes to your wealth, it can also affect who will look after your children. With a will you also get to choose who will be the executor and be responsible for winding up your affairs.
Probate Can Be Painful
There are many other reasons why having a will is important. Without one, your relatives will be faced with a lengthy probate process to settle your estate. This is the last thing your family needs when they are trying to deal with bereavement. It can also lead to financial difficulties as getting access to bank accounts and savings will be more complicated.
The other thing you probably want to make sure of is that as much of your wealth as possible passes to your chosen beneficiaries rather than the taxman. The way your will is written can make a big difference to the amount of Inheritance Tax deducted from your estate. Having a legally valid will also allow you to make gifts and charitable donations from your estate.
Now you’ve decided that you need to make or update your will, what now? There are low cost and DIY options that can be suitable for very straightforward estates. However, these also come with the risk that they may be invalid (perhaps through something as simple as the way they are witnessed). They may also not achieve what you intended because of the way they were worded – legal language is precise for a reason.
You’ve probably tried to do your best for your family all of your life. To make sure that continues you need a will. PowellsLaw can help you understand your options. We offer a bespoke will writing service and can also review previously written wills to ensure they are valid and advise you on what will happen in practice when that will is executed.