When is the best time to make a Will?

We firmly believe that every adult should have a Will. But why is a Will important and when should you make one?

A Will protects you and your family, providing peace of mind by ensuring your wishes for what happens to your estate when you die are carried out.

Many people have more to leave than they might realise, but no matter what your circumstances are a Will is still important.

It is also worth reiterating that dying without a Will can create complications for your family as your money and assets will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy rather than your own express wishes.

In this blog we’ll look at a number of scenarios to help you understand why having a Will is so important and when you should make one.

At Savigny we recommend that you write or alter your Will when you have a major life event. By that we mean when you do something that changes the value of the assets you own or the relationships you have with other people. We give some examples below:

Buying a new home

Buying a property is amongst the largest investments you will ever make, and it increases the value of your assets enormously, so it makes sense to plan for what happens to that asset should the worst happen.

Even if you have owned your property for a long time it makes sense for the sake of you family to formally document what you want to happen to it after you have gone.

Most of us would like to think that the home we live in and perhaps the place where our children grew up can be passed on to our surviving partner or family. But unless you have a Will you cannot guarantee that this will happen

Getting married or remarried

When you marry you like to think that your new husband or wife will be the beneficiary of your assets when you die. But you can’t guarantee this. We see too many cases where the surviving spouse’s inheritance is challenged by other family members or a former spouse because there is no Will in place.

Sadly, death can renew family feuds or grudges and an already difficult situation can become even more distressing when there is no Will. For peace of mind therefore, no matter how young you may be, making a Will is the right thing to do.

We should also mention that when you remarry any existing Will is cancelled so it is important to write a new Will reflecting your new circumstances we will cover this in more depth in a later blog.

Cohabiting

According to the Office for National Statistics there were 3.6million cohabiting couples in the UK in 2020, an increase of nearly 23% since 2010. However, unlike married couples there is no presumption in law that on the death of one of the partners that their estate will pass to the surviving partner.

The law treats cohabiting couples the same whether they have been living together for decades or just moved in recently, so it is vitally important to make a will that explains exactly which people you want your assets distributed amongst.
In a worst case scenario, a partner may not get a penny from an estate with it all being inherited by a sibling or child. This is why a Will is vitally important for cohabiting couples, no matter how long they have been together.

Getting divorced

Divorce does not revoke a Will that has been made during the marriage. But once the decree absolute has been issued, your former spouse will be treated as if they have died for purposes of the Will.
Therefore, if your spouse is the sole beneficiary in the Will, you will be considered intestate in the event of your death and any instructions in the Will to leave assets to your former spouse will be disregarded.
Many people do want their former spouse to benefit, while others wish to have completely new beneficiaries, you may also have children together. In all of these cases making a new Will ensures your wishes are carried out and assets are distributed according to your intentions.

Having children

When you have children or stepchildren enter your life you have a whole you set of responsibilities in your life. One of those responsibilities is to look after your family should anything happen to you.

None of us think we will die early, yet we all know someone who has died suddenly through accident or illness and who had young children. Even if you are married, making a Will ensures your family is provided for in the way you would wish.
But it’s not all about money. Making a Will also allows you to appoint guardians for your children. If these plans are not outlined in a Will, and both parents die, your local authority or the courts may be left to decide who should look after your children.  

The death of your partner

When you partner dies you may well inherit all their assets, indeed you may have had what is known as a Mirror Will that ensures you each inherit the others estate. But once they are no longer with you, you’ll need to revise your Will.

Once you are on your own, you’ll need to consider carefully how you want to divide up your assets and who should inherit your money, property and any specific items. You can also appoint guardians in the Will if you have children under 18 and you’ll also need to appoint new executors for your own Will.

Get some good advice

Making a Will is straightforward provided you have thought carefully about who your beneficiaries should be and you know what your assets are.

But it is easy to get it wrong, especially if you do it yourself or use an off the shelf pack. This is why you should turn to an experienced team to help you. A company such as Savigny will listen to you to understand your individual circumstances and exactly who you want to benefit when you die.

We’ll also ask you lots of questions and get you to think about the things that might not have crossed your mind such as Inheritance Tax planning.

More than anything, whoever you chose to help you, we would urge you to make a Will if you don’t have one or revise your Will if your circumstances have changed. It’s the least you can do to ensure your family and loved ones are protected when you pass on.

For more information, for advice about Writing a Will or if you have any questions please contact Savigny Will Writers today.

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