Why is it important to have a valid, current Will?
Posted on 20th August 2021
Despite the importance of valid, current Wills, according to research, only 4 in 10 adults have one. Read our blog to find out why Wills are important.
Our team of expert local solicitors for Wills at MG Legal have drafted hundreds of Wills over the course of the past year, and are always pleased when new clients decide to take steps to make sure they have a valid Will in place which reflects their current wishes.
However, shocking research carried out, discussed on todayswillsandprobate.co.uk , shows that fewer than 4 in every 10 adults in the UK has made a Will. This does not necessarily mean that these Wills are up-to-date, either, just that 4 in 10 adults have made one. Todayswillsandprobate.co.uk point out that this comes as a surprise to experts, such as our local wills solicitors in Longridge, as it was predicted that the pandemic would encourage greater awareness of the importance of ensuring that your legal affairs are in order, especially in terms of making a Will and estate planning.
That was not the case, with statistics showing only a 1% increase in Will-making between 2019 and 2020, although we note that this figure does not cover the entirety of the pandemic. The report goes on to cite the main reason for people not making a Will being that they believe they have nothing of value to pass on, despite 1 in 6 owning property or properties, a highly valuable asset by most people’s standards.
Below, our expert Wills solicitors in Longridge have considered why it is important to make a Will and how our team can assist.
Died without a Will?
Dying without a Will can, in some cases, be more complex. Our team have experienced a case where the only known surviving relative was left dealing with their distant relative’s estate, knowing very little about the person and their lifestyle, and not knowing about any other surviving family members who may have a claim against the deceased’s estate.
This meant that it was not a straightforward case of our client making an application to be appointed as a Personal Representative for the deceased . Instead, a full family tree reconstruction was required, before they could begin to deal with the deceased’s affairs.
If the deceased had made a Will, they may have chosen to leave their estate to friends or charities who they supported through their lifetime. Another important reason to make a Will is that the costs involved with constructing a family tree can be quite high, compared to locating a beneficiary who is specifically named
in a Will.
In addition, if the deceased had made a Will, their wishes could be carried out without causing any arguments between the surviving family over who should deal with what and how it should be done. For example, if the Will names an executor, it would be their responsibility to administer the estate, and their decisions would usually be final.
Another problem that can occur if a person dies intestate, and beneficiaries cannot be located, the condition of the deceased’s property, and the value of other assets could decrease in the time it takes to find these beneficiaries which, most would agree, is not good.
In relation to property, if this is owned with another person as Tenants in Common, rather than as Joint Tenants, and one of the co-owners dies without a Will, their respective share could pass to their family, and not to the surviving owner (if the surviving owner is not a family member, or not the first person under the Rules of Intestacy to inherit the deceased’s estate). This could mean that the co-owner is left facing issues about selling the property and their right to continue living there. Our expert Will drafters have discussed this more below.
Why make a Will?
Well, in addition to all of the above pros of ensuring that you have a valid Will in place, there are numerous other reasons that you should make a Will, or ensure that you keep your Will up-to-date if you have already have one:
1. Peace of mind – you know that your estate will pass to who you want it to, rather than automatically under the Rules of Intestacy, and you know that a trusted person (known as your executor) will be dealing with your estate.
2. Ensuring that certain people do not receive anything – this can be a common reason for people with children when they do not want their child to be included in their Estate. If they did not make a Will, no verbal expression of not wanting their child to inherit from them would be sufficient. Without a valid Will, that child would receive an equal share of the estate.
3. To benefit charity – some people decide that, despite knowing many people they have cherished through their lifetime, there is no one they would want to leave their estate to. They may also decide that benefitting a charity close to their hearts would be their ultimate wish. Accordingly, by making a Will, they can ensure that this happens.
4. Inheritance Tax – depending on the value of your estate, under the Rules of Intestacy, not all of your assets would automatically pass to a spouse or surviving partner. However, if you make a Will leaving everything to your spouse or surviving partner, everything that passes to them would be free of Inheritance Tax (i.e., they would not have to pay any on your death).
You may have your own reasons why you think it is important to make a Will, and that is absolutely fine. What is key is that no matter the value of your estate, having a valid and current Will in place can ensure that your wishes are followed whilst reducing the chance of arguments on your death.
Do I need to update my Will?
Our expert solicitors for Wills in Longridge are often asked if a person needs to update their Will because X has changed. There are some circumstances when it is not necessary to update your Will, for example, if something as simple as one of your beneficiaries’ addresses has changed.
If you have moved house, and your circumstances have changed, you may think it is a good idea to review the terms of your Will and check that it is still valid and reflects your wishes. If not, the best thing to do would be to update it.
In addition, if you wish to make changes to who is acting as your Executors, or who you are leaving gifts or your entire estate to, you should update your Will. To discuss updating your Will, contact our expert team online, here , to arrange an appointment.
How does owning property affect my Will?
For some of our clients, owning a property may have no bearing on their Will. For example, if they own a property in their sole name, and have decided that they are leaving everything that they own at their death to one person, or equally between their children, or to a charity.
For other clients, for example, those who own property with another person, or those who are leaving their property to be divided between specific people, with everything else they own passing to another person, owning a property could affect how their Will is drafted.
Our expert local solicitors for Wills have explored some scenarios, below:
Joint Tenants- Joint Tenants means that the whole property is owned by both owners jointly. If one of the co-owners dies, the survivor is the sole surviving legal owner of the whole property. A property owned in this way is not capable of being left under a person’s Will.
Tenants in Common- Tenants in Common means that the property is owned by both owners, in shares. This can be equal shares (50/50) or unequal shares. Each person owns an identifiable share of the property, which is capable of being left under their Will. Now, we do not mean that one person owns the living room, kitchen and two of the upstairs bedrooms, and the other owns the other half of the property’s rooms. What this means is that both owners are entitled to an identifiable share, and not automatically to the other owner’s share on death.
Leaving a property in a Will:
If you want to leave your share of your jointly owned property under your Will, our expert Will drafters would firstly obtain a copy of the Land Registry title document at a cost of £3.00 to check your ownership.
If the property is held as Joint Tenants, our team will discuss with you changing this ownership to Tenants in Common so that you can leave your share in your Will. Our Wills team currently charge £75 plus VAT for dealing with this for clients who are also making or updating their Will. The other co-owner must be notified of the change in ownership, otherwise the change cannot be made.
Property owned in your sole name- If you want to leave a property owned in your sole name under your Will, rather than as part of the remainder of your estate, our team will need to discuss with you the wording of the clause (i.e. whether this is to apply to any property that you own on your death, or simply a specific property) and how you wish to deal with any mortgage or charges against the property.
Does a Solicitor need to draft my Will?
Every person is entitled to make a Will from the comfort of their own home, if they so wish. However, this can, in some cases, cause arguments about the validity of the document . In addition, if it is not drafted or signed correctly, the Will may not be valid and would therefore not be effective on your death.
Our expert team of local Wills solicitors would always suggest that ensuring your Will is drawn up by professionals could help to prevent any disputes in the future. Our team keep comprehensive notes of the discussions we have with clients when they are making a Will, so if any dispute arises in the future, we can attest to the circumstances surrounding the Testator making their Will and their signing of the Will.
We even offer home visits, by appointment, so if you want to make a Will from the comfort of your own home, our expert local solicitors are here to help. Contact our team online, here, to discuss making a Will.
Can MG Legal, Solicitors near me, help?
At MG Legal, our expert team of local Wills and Probate Solicitors are here to help. We can help you to make a Will or review your current Will arrangements, if you are undecided about making any changes. Contact our team at your local office to arrange an appointment .
Our team provide confirmation of the fees payable at the very start of your matter, so that you know where you stand and what you will be charged for. Find out more about our fees, here.
How can I contact MG Legal?
Our team are available during office hours, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. For assistance outside of office hours, email firstname.lastname@example.org and a member of the team will get back to you as soon as possible.
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