Whats your issue? When do we make a will?
Last week my youngest daughter gave birth to her first child, a new Grandson for Jan and I. Yes, yes, I know I told you this last week, but you can’t share that kind of joy too much can you?
I also talked about the anxiety that came with the joy of his birth, the concern that we must get in place all the protection he needs whilst growing up….life insurance for my daughter and son-in-law of course, but also that they should make a will in order to express their decision as to who would look after their new son if they were to die.
The will, alone, is so important as without that expression of choice of guardians, it could end up being unnecessarily difficult and traumatic for the child at an already desperate time, should anything happen to his parents.
Whilst pondering all of this, I started to think about the other issues that cause people to make a will. Now, before you chastise me, I know….EVERYONE should make a will, its so important. But if we all know how important it is, then why (according to a recent survey from Canada Life) do over half the UK adult population still not have a valid will in place?
Looking at it another way, what are the other reasons that finally prompt people to make their wills?
The following are a few reasons why, over the years, clients have told me that they are ready to set up their own wills.
Getting married for the first time brings with it many commitments, and along with those commitments come responsibilities. Newly married couples often buy a house together, their first major asset. They may also be planning or already have a young family, so this is perhaps not such a surprising reason for taking the decision to make their wills.
However, marriage should be an important prompt for anyone to make a will, even if you have made one before.
Did you realise that getting married automatically invalidates any previous wills you might have made? So, for second or subsequent marriages, it is vital to revisit your will and remake it, taking into account your new situation.
Any couples who are not married, and are not in a legal civil partnership, should seriously consider making their wills. Why? Well the alternative to having your own will is that you fall back on the “rules of intestacy”, effectively the financial will that the government imposes on you.
If somebody dies without a will (intestate), their assets will be distributed according to these rules. Unfortunately, the rules of intestacy do not recognise unmarried (Common Law) partners, so your life partner would inherit nothing.
Complex Family Situation
Hands up who doesn’t have a complex family situation? If you are not in a second or subsequent marriage (or life relationship) yourself, chances are that someone in your family is.
With new and previous relationships combining, it is likely that you will find yourself with a much-extended family, with children and step children (and Grandchildren) becoming equally regarded as kin.
Did you know that in estate & legacy planning, step children are not regarded as children unless you legally adopt them?
If you are one of the millions that have a complex family situation then definitely consider making a will, to make sure that all your loved ones are properly considered when your estate is being distributed.
This one comes up much more often than you might think. When talking with people about who should receive their assets when they die, the remark is often made, “well I don’t want “X” to get anything!”
Now you might think that if you state in your will who “should” receive your assets when you have passed, then by a process of elimination this would also categorically identify those who “should not”?
Regrettably this is not the case, as close relatives (Children for example) would have a legitimate claim on your estate if they are not included in your will. They could assert, for example, that you must simply have overlooked them in error.
So, if you want to exclude somebody from ever receiving assets from your estate, you cannot simply omit them from your will, you should specifically state that you do not wish them to inherit, and your reasons for it. This does not necessarily need to be in your will document, but it should be in a separate accompanying letter to your executors explaining why you have excluded a particular person, or people, from your will.
What’s your story?
The above are a few of the most common issues that, in my experience, bring people to the table to make their wills.
What is your own experience? What was it that led you to make your will? I would love to hear about your reasons and perhaps share these in a future article, no names or specific details of course.
Thanks for now,
Have a great week everyone!
Colin Barrett Director, Ancojada Group