A Will makes a clear and defined plan for personal possessions, be it your house, your wedding ring or even your cat. You can control who will benefit from your estate and include sentimental possessions.
It is common to wish to avoid preparing a Will, especially for younger people who may feel that they do not have much in the way of assets, but in doing so you can help avoid unnecessary family disputes and reduce the time and cost spent in distributing the estate.
A further reason, popular with older clients, is to use trusts and other planning to protect your assets against care fees or remarriage by your spouse after you have died.
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Quite simply if you do not formulate a plan and document it in your Will, then you die intestate – your estate will be shared out based on the laws of intestacy.
For smaller estates this means the spouse receives the majority (the first £270,000) and of the excess they also receive 50% and the other 50% is shared by the children.
So for larger estates, the children could end up with more than intended and this could cause unnecessary inheritance tax to be paid. If you have children from previous relationships or others that rely on you, making a will is the only way to ensure they benefit on your death. Also, if you are not married your partner is not entitled to anything. Inheritance tax law disadvantages unmarried couples, but this can be mitigated by a will.
You can use a will to appoint guardians to look after your children and Trustees to look after their inheritance until they “come of age”. You can set up a trust to delay inheritance beyond 18 if you fear they are not going to be mature enough to spend it wisely at 18.