Have you ever thought to yourself do I really need a Will while I’m still young and so are my kids? Well, the answer is yes if you want your belongings to be passed to your loved ones and if you want your kids and family to be set for life if you were to depart this world.
Picture this: you pass away without making a Will. What will happen? Well to put it simply, you don’t get to decide who gets your assets and your belongings. Instead, the decision will be made by someone else and this can be someone who you weren’t ever close to or it can be a COMPLETE stranger!
We are currently living in uncertain times and we never know what can happen in the future so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Unfortunately, death is inevitable and it’s out of our hands, but don’t let this be a scary thought and stop you from reading the rest. Having a Will is something that’s CRUCIAL for every person to have and the great thing is that it’s completely in your control!
What is a Will?
To put it simply, a Will is a legal document that expresses what you wish to happen to your assets and the care of any minor children after you’re gone.
Why do I need a Will?
Many people assume that once you pass away, your partner or spouse will automatically inherit your assets, followed by your children but this isn’t always the case and the process isn’t as simple as you would like. A Will is the best way to ENSURE that your wishes are heard.
Imagine ALL the difficulties that our family and our loved ones will have to go through once we are gone from this life. Not only will there be a lot of struggles emotionally, but there's also the financial aspect of it that comes later on that they have no choice but to deal with. It’s already going to be hard enough for all those involved in the asset distribution process so we want them to have one less thing to worry about. A huge weight lifted off their shoulder.
As parents, our MAIN priority and concern is usually our children. We never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. The future is uncertain so we want to protect our kids as much as we can so they can live stress-free later on in life and throughout adulthood. This is one of the key reasons to get a Will.
Here are some more reasons why having a Will is vital:
- Imagine passing away without EVER having made a Will. Consequently, the decisions about who gets your assets and the way they’ll be distributed gets taken away from you and the distribution will follow intestacy rules.
Intestacy law is this: ‘When someone dies without a will, their estate is divided up according to standard rules… As set out in the Inheritance and Trustees' Power Act, the rules determine who inherits what based on family connections. The rules don't take into account the closeness of your relationships, or who is most in need.’
So in essence, the intestacy law considers biological relationships. It doesn’t care if you are very close to someone and you want THEM to receive your assets. Therefore, you need a Will so that you can make the choice about who you want your assets to go to when you pass away.
Lots of people also think that if they’re in a long-term relationship when they pass away, their assets will automatically be given to their partner but this isn’t always true, especially if the couple isn’t married. This can have a detrimental impact if the couple has kids. One example of this is a man who was in a long-term relationship with a woman and they had a child together. The man had died due to an accident and since the couple didn’t have a Will, his assets didn’t go to his partner. This caused the woman to not be able to pay her child’s school fees. That man’s estate was passed on to his children, but because they were under 18, all of the assets were inaccessible to them and even to their mother. Consequently, she could not pay for their school or other expenses. This kind of situation is absolutely devastating and can be easily avoided by having a Will.
- Just to emphasize on the previous point, a Will enables you to choose who you want your assets to go to, which ALSO means that you can keep your assets out of the hands of those you don’t want to receive them.
- You can be in control of nominating a guardian who you trust and who you would like to take care of your children (in the event that you and your partner BOTH pass away), if they are under 18 years. Without a Will, the courts will be in control of the decision and this can result in a guardian being chosen who you wouldn’t have approved otherwise. A Will can give you the peace of mind that your children will be in the safest hands.
- If you think you don’t need a Will as your children are financially secure, then a Will can be useful as you can skip a generation and leave your estate to your grandchildren instead. Who knows, maybe they will need some financial help in the future for things like buying a house or paying for University fees etc.
- Making a Will gives you the opportunity to be able to give wonderful gifts to charities or a specific cause that you are really passionate about.
- The whole process of your heirs getting access to your assets will be a lot faster, easier and less stressful.
But what if I already have a Will?
Even if you are part of the 40% of people who has a Will, it doesn’t mean that it’s up-to-date or still valid. Wills need to be reviewed from time to time since certain circumstances such as a change in your relationship status or your living arrangements will override a pre-existing Will. If you have an invalid Will, your estate will be treated as intestate and shared out under intestacy rules. You can click here for more information about what makes a Will invalid.
The different types of Wills
A basic Will very simply just states your wishes. It offers minimal protection and may result in your assets being vulnerable to certain losses or claims by third parties. This is why its SO important to go for the right kind of Will that can protect your assets effectively.
Single Will: This is designed for one person. In this Will, you can choose guardians for minor children, state your funeral wishes, express who you would like to inherit your assets, to make a specific gift and to nominate executors.
Mirror Will: This type of Will has the same functions as a Single Will but is designed for couples (married/unmarried, civil partners or otherwise). This usually means that everything gets passed to your spouse/partner first and then to your children or other beneficiaries. However, there are some disadvantages to the Mirror Will. What if after you pass away, your spouse or partner remarries? This would mean that your previous Will is revoked and your wishes might not be carried out. Although both of your Wills might have been drawn up at the same time, it’s still possible for your spouse/partner to change their Will since both Wills aren’t actually linked legally. If you need more information about how Mirror Wills work and their risks, click here.
What’s the purpose of a Trust and why should I have one?
The concept of a Trust can be pretty complicated and confusing but we’ve found the PERFECT way to explain it:
‘Imagine you asked a friend to look after some of your money, so they could use it to pay for your care if you got ill. If you just gave them the money directly, you couldn’t be sure that they’d use it properly. They could spend it on whatever they like. So, instead, you can set up a trust. With a trust, the money has to be used according to rules you set out.’ (the Money Advice Service).
A Trust is a legal entity that allows you to benefit from an asset without being the legal owner. There are 2 types of Trusts- a Will Trust and a Lifetime Trust. The difference between these Trusts is that a Will Trust is created upon someone’s death whereas a Lifetime Trust is established during your lifetime. Unlike a single Will, Trusts allow you to have specific conditions for example if you have a child and you want them to inherit your house UNLESS they remarry in the future.
There are also different types of Trusts that you can add to your Will for greater protection. One of them is a Children’s Trust which manages the inheritance of young children. Another type is a Family Protection Trust which is designed for couples who want to protect their assets and their loved ones. This is beneficial, not only if you want to protect your kids but also if you are concerned about the cost of care in the future. The easiest and clearest way to understand the difference between Wills and Trusts is that a Will simply lists your wishes but Trusts ENSURE that your wishes/needs are met.
PROS of a Family Protection Trust:
- This Trust offers the protection of your assets from any losses including care fees.
- Married/unmarried partners can be taken care of during the remainder of their lives.
- It offers the protection of children’s inheritance if you break up with your partner/spouse or if you remarry.
- If you’ve had children from a previous relationship, they will be protected.
- Your estate will be well-protected from having claims made against it.
- Provides a way to reduce inheritance tax.
- Provides a way to manage assets on behalf of someone who isn’t able to (eg. a child who hasn’t been born yet).
- You can pass family assets to future generations who can benefit greatly.
When you’ve understood the main ideas, you can watch this more detailed video on YouTube explaining Family Trusts and how they work.
These are pretty much only the basics of Wills and Trusts. We don’t want to bombard you with TOO much information all at once since we know it can get confusing and complicated, particularly if it’s the first time you’re hearing about all this. Don’t feel pressured by the information and don’t let it put you off. You can read through this whole blog from start to finish a few times until you can fully process it and feel more ready to begin the process of writing a Will and a Trust.
Lasting Power of Attorney
One final thing you should know! An LPA (Lasting Power of Attorney) is separate legal document which is JUST as important as a Will. In an LPA, you can nominate someone who you’d want to act on your behalf and make decisions about your money, property or welfare, either now or in the future. It’s a really important document to have in the event that you become ill or lose capacity (such as dementia or being in a coma) which would prevent you from making decisions yourself. If you don’t have an LPA, then the court can appoint a deputy to gain control of your assets and this can be a COMPLETE stranger who can also make life-changing decisions for you! An example of this would be a stranger deciding if you should come off life support or not, which is absurd if you think about it and no one would EVER want that to happen.
Hugh James, a UK Law firm has summed it up perfectly: ‘It is a wise precaution to have appointed attorneys that you trust to make important decisions and take important actions on your behalf should the need arise during your lifetime.’
Did you know that nearly 60% of UK parents don’t have a valid will!?
The average age of people making a Will in the UK is 58 years old which is crazy because every person should have a Will as soon as they can, not when they get older. The statistic of only 60% of UK parents having a Will or a valid Will is an incredibly low percentage and this is exactly why we want to raise awareness, so that you and your children can live in peace and to ensure that your wishes are heard!
Do it before it’s too late!
Having a Will is like a sigh of relief. A breath of fresh air. You won’t have anything to worry about in the future as you KNOW that your kids and your loved ones will be set for life and this is the best feeling. You NEED a Will because no one except YOU should have the right to make life-changing decisions regarding you or your family when you pass away- it should be completely in your hands and in your control. Act now and you can avoid any stresses and disputes for yourself, and for your children and family. It will feel like a heavy weight lifted off your shoulders!
Visit the Blik Estate Planning & Insurance Facebook page for more information and to get in touch regarding you and your family’s specific needs. Contact Blik Estate Planning about your Will Writing needs and have your peace of mind TODAY!