Each November, the legal profession teams up with nine of the UK’s best-loved charities for Will Aid Month.
Under the scheme, participating solicitors waive their fee for writing a basic will and, instead, invite you to make a voluntary donation to Will Aid.
In return for a suggested donation of £100 – or £180 for two “mirror” wills – you benefit from a professionally drawn-up will. At the same time, charities including Age UK, NSPCC, Save the Children, and Action Aid receive much-needed donations to support their work.
With recent research from Canada Life revealing that 1 in 2 UK adults don’t have a will – including 1 in 3 over-55s – now is the time to put yours in place, or update your existing will. Here’s why.
1. Your assets will be distributed according to your wishes
One of the simplest reasons to write a will is that you can decide who inherits your assets when you die.
As the “testator”, you can identify how you’d like your estate to be distributed on your death. You might divide your estate proportionately by value, or leave specific items to individuals.
In addition, you can use your will to help ensure that some people don’t inherit anything. For example, you might want to prevent an ex-partner from receiving an inheritance.
Without a will, your estate will be divided according to the rules of intestacy, meaning that your assets may not pass in accordance with your wishes.
For instance, if you have a partner but are not married, they would typically receive nothing unless you specify this in a will.
2. You can choose who you want to oversee your estate
As well as choosing who you’d like to receive your assets, you can also use your will to choose the person (or people) who you’d like to handle your estate.
Nominating an “executor” means you can specify who will be in charge of wrapping up all your affairs.
This is a responsible job and can involve everything from closing your accounts to selling assets. So, it’s important to select someone you trust and who is capable of administering your estate.
If you don’t nominate an executor in your will, the court will pick one for you — and it may not be the person you’d want.
3. It can result in less stress and conflict for your loved ones
Research shared by the Personal Finance Society has revealed that 3 in 4 people are likely to experience a will, inheritance, or probate dispute in their lifetime.
Leaving a will means you can make your wishes clear, helping to reduce disputes and arguments between your loved ones.
According to the survey, there are four reasons for disputing inheritance:
- Individuals were unhappy with the inheritance received
- A claim that the estate was not being distributed properly
- A claim that the person who wrote the will lacked capacity when they made the will
- A claim that someone had coerced the testator to change the will.
About 70% of claimants involved lawyers in the dispute proceedings, with the average legal fees just below £13,000.
Without a will, your family may have to guess what your wishes were, and this could lead to stressful and costly disputes – some of which can drive a significant wedge between family members.
Writing a will makes your wishes clear. Adding a letter explaining the reasons behind your decisions can also provide useful context for grieving relatives.
4. You can leave money to causes you care about
When it comes to deciding how to distribute your assets, you may want to leave a legacy to a cause you care about. Indeed, Investors’ Chronicle reports that, across the UK, people leave around £3.9 billion a year to charities in their wills.
You can use your will to gift cash, assets, or property to a charity and help to make a positive impact.
Gifts to charities usually fall outside your estate for Inheritance Tax (IHT) purposes. And, if you leave more than 10% of your net estate to charity, the IHT rate charged on the remainder of your estate reduces from 40% to 36%.
This brings us to…
5. You could reduce your Inheritance Tax liability
Leaving a legacy to charity in your will can help to reduce the IHT bill your loved ones will face.
In addition, a carefully written will could help to reduce IHT in other ways.
For example, if you specify in your will that you’d like to leave your home to a direct lineal descendant – a child or grandchild – then you may be able to take advantage of the “residence nil-rate band”, which offers an additional £175,000 of IHT relief.
6. Your existing will may no longer reflect your wishes
Even if you have made a will, it’s vital to review it on a regular basis to ensure it remains appropriate. As an example, if you remarry any previous will is immediately invalidated.
Over time your circumstances will likely change, and you may need to update your will to reflect your new situation. There may be additional children or grandchildren you want to include, or you may want to remove ex-partners.
If it’s been some time since you made your will, make sure you review it to ensure it continues to reflect your wishes.
7. You can make your own funeral arrangements
Your own funeral might not be at the front of your mind, but you can use your will to leave instructions to your loved ones. This can reduce the stress on your family who are likely to be grieving your passing.
- Did you want to be buried or cremated?
- Are there specific pieces of music you’d like played at the service?
- Have you made arrangements to meet the costs – if so, how?
Providing this information can ease the burden on your family and ensure you receive the send-off you want.
Get in touch
A bespoke financial plan can help you to achieve your long-term goals, including providing financial support to your loved ones or leaving a legacy when you pass away.
If you want to know more, email email@example.com or call us on 01189 876655.
This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.
The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate estate planning, tax planning or will writing.