A last will and testament is a legal document that assures that the wishes of a person regarding assets and possessions get carried out after death. Alternately, an estate will be subject to the rules of intestacy, which can cause the people and organisations close to a testator’s heart to miss out. It is especially important to make a will if a person has children, any savings, investments or insurance policies, or if they own property or a business.
What are the rules of Intestacy?
- If there are no surviving children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren a married or civil partner will inherit the whole estate
- If there are surviving children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren, a married partner or civil partner will receive a very large majority of assets, with the relatives inheriting a smaller portion
- If there are no surviving married or civil partners, the estate will be divided equally between the children of the deceased
- In some cases, other close relatives might inherit the estate
- If there are no surviving relatives, the estate will be passed to the Crown
- Even if partners live together for a long time, but are not married, they will not inherit anything under these rules.
Validity of Will
It’s important to remember that if there is a will, but the will is not valid, the intestacy rules will still apply. It is possible for a person to write their own simple will, but it is always best to have a solicitor write or at least verify the document. Not using a solicitor could result in mistakes that go against the wishes of the deceased. Wills can become very complicated where several beneficiaries are involved or the finances are complicated. When wills are unclear, it could land on the executor to straighten the blunders and they could have to pay legal costs.
A will can provide children with security after losing a parent. In a will, a trust can be set up for children ensuring that they receive the money and what they spend that money on. For children under 18, a will can also provide who will be their guardian, and who should not be their guardian.
Organizing a will could reduce the amount of inheritance tax that will be imposed, making sure that beneficiaries get the most out of an estate.
Avoiding Family Disputes
Losing a family member is difficult enough, the last thing a family should be doing after a death is arguing over the assets. With a will, decisions are clear and there is no ambiguity about the final wishes of the family member. Families will not always agree, but the assurance of a will can limit any tensions and friction by removing the uncertainty.
Overall, a will can eliminate a lot of stress for family and friends. One of the main advantages of writing a will is avoiding the long and complicated process of intestate administration (the court process for dividing an estate where there is no will). Choosing a person to handle an estate can make it easier for everyone involved.
Leaving instructions for a funeral can also take some weight off of a family’s shoulders While these instructions are not legally binding, the guidance for executors reassures that they are carrying out the person’s wishes.
Gifting and Donating
If a testator wants to gift and donate to any causes close to their heart, it must be written in a will. Through the intestacy rules, only a minimal number of family members will benefit from an estate, they do not take into consideration any close relationships to non-relatives, or who needs the extra help.
Amending a Will
A will can be amended at any time if life circumstances have changed. It is a smart idea to modify a will when buying a home, divorcing, having children or starting a business, so that the will is up to date and still represents the wishes of the testator.
To be certain that money, property, possessions and investments end up with the nearest and dearest people in a person’s life, there must be a will. Otherwise, there will always be a possibility that estates end up in the wrong hands.