7 good reasons why it’s essential to make a will and keep it up to date

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Will Aid is a charity set up with the aim of raising money for vulnerable people, both in the UK and abroad.

It does this by encouraging people to sort out one of the most important financial arrangements – making a will. November 2021 is “Will Aid Month.”

Although making a will is relatively straightforward and inexpensive, Will Aid research has revealed that 49% of UK adults don’t have one in place.

One of the commonest reasons people gave for not having one was that they didn’t want to contemplate their own death. Thinking about your own mortality is never easy, but it’s a nettle you should really be grasping as soon as possible.

If making a will is something you’ve been putting off, here are seven excellent reasons to make writing or updating your will a priority.

1. Ensure your executors can distribute your assets in the way you want

Without a will, a solicitor will be appointed to distribute your estate according to intestacy rules.

The intestate rules are strict, and will usually mean that only spouses, partners, and close family will inherit.

This can be very different from what you want, particularly if you are unmarried, have a complex family or want to leave something to several people. The only way to ensure your wishes are followed is to write a will.

2. Reduce stress for your family at a difficult time

Your death will be an emotional time for your loved ones.

Ensuring that your financial affairs are well-managed, and that you’ve taken the necessary steps to ensure your assets are smoothly distributed after you die, will give them some comfort and one less thing to have to worry about.

It will also give you peace of mind knowing that you have taken tangible steps to make their lives easier.

3. Reduce family conflict

As well as reducing stress in the immediate aftermath of your death, making a will can also help reduce another cause of angst further down the road – conflict over how your assets should be distributed.

Setting out your wishes clearly in a will can avoid disputes and reduce the risk of family conflicts arising. This can often happen in certain circumstances, such as if you’ve previously been divorced, or have both children and stepchildren.

It’s also advisable to speak to your family about your intentions when you’re drawing up your will. This will help them understand why you’ve made the decisions you have.

4. Secure the financial future of your loved ones

When you’re drawing up your will, you’re clearly thinking about the eventual scenario where you’re no longer around to care and provide for your loved ones.

So, it’s a comfortable thought to hold that, by making a will, you’re going some way to securing their financial future after you’ve passed on.

5. Name a guardian for your children

The Will Aid research also revealed that only a quarter of parents who have made a will named a guardian for their underage children.

It’s obviously not a pleasant thing to have to think about, but it can be salutary for you to consider what would happen to your children should the very worst happen to yourself and your spouse or partner.

By outlining your wishes and naming guardians in your will, you can easily avoid the decision being made by the courts – with all the stress and emotional upheaval that would entail for your children and other family members.

6. Potentially reduce the Inheritance Tax bill payable on your estate

Inheritance Tax (IHT) will be payable on the value of your estate when you die if the overall value exceeds a certain amount.

Writing a will can help you maximise allowances so that you can pass on more of your wealth to your family and minimise the amount that goes to HMRC.

You can leave £325,000 to family members without any IHT being due. You can also leave your main home to your children or grandchildren and take advantage of the “residence nil-rate band” up to £175,000.

You may also be able to place some assets in a trust and pass them to your loved ones as a clause in your will – and so keep them potentially exempt from consideration for IHT purposes.

You should bear in mind that setting up trusts can be complicated, and you should seek expert advice if you’re thinking of doing this.

7. Adapt to suit your changing circumstances

Making a will is a straightforward process, and it’s equally easy to amend or update it.

So, once you’ve made a will you should look to review it regularly to ensure it’s still appropriate to your wishes.

Circumstances change over time, and your will may need to change to reflect this. Some events that may necessitate you updating your will could include:

  • Becoming a grandparent
  • Divorcing and remarrying
  • Inheriting a large sum of money.

Need help setting up your will?

If you currently don’t have a will, hopefully this article has given you the incentive you need to set one up.

If you’re looking for an expert estate planning service, we have teamed up with Hillyer McKeown (HM), a law firm with a wealth of experience in helping clients draw up their will.

Alexandra Nuttall is the supervisor of the Lifetime Planning team at HM, and she would be more than happy to speak with you. To find out how HM can help to you ensure your wishes are carried out when you pass away, get in touch.

Email Alexandra at aen@law.uk.com or call 0151 666 0739.

Get in touch

If you’d like to discuss the value of your estate and how you can pass on assets to your loved ones, please contact us.

You can email us at enquiries@blackswanfp.co.uk or contact your adviser on 020 3828 8100.

Please note

The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate estate planning, tax planning or will writing.

 

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