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Why You Should Make a Will

Have you made a Will yet? Making a Will is something all of us know we should do but lots of us don’t get around to making one, for one reason or another. Reasons to not make a Will might include, ‘I’m too young’, ‘I’m not married’, ‘I don’t have any children’, ‘I’ve got nothing to leave,’ or ‘I’ll get round to it one day’, amongst other excuses we make to ourselves. 

The article below gives advice on Wills in England, UK. Please check the rules for your own country before making a decision based on your own circumstances. 

Why should you make a Will? 

It’s true it’s important to make a Will if you own property – after all, you didn’t spend all those hours traipsing around estate agents in Essex looking for your perfect home just to let the government have your house when you die, did you? But if you have savings, investments, shares, insurance policies, own a business or have children, it’s also important to have a Will to ensure all your assets (i.e. not only your house, but also your car and savings, etc., known as your ‘estate’) are divided according to your wishes. 

Without a Will, your estate will be shared out by however the law decides (the ‘Rules of Intestacy’) and those you may have wished to benefit will not receive anything.  Having a Will therefore makes it much easier for your friends and family to sort everything out and will save them unnecessary stress and inconvenience. 

Your Will can also contain any special provisions (as long as they’re within the law), such as whether you want to be buried or cremated. 

How to make a Will 

A Will can be a simple document. All it needs is:

  • the names of those to whom you wish your estate to go; 
  • the name(s) of who you have chosen to be in charge of carrying out your instructions (the ‘executor(s)’). You can have more than one executor and, contrary to popular belief, your executor(s) can be named as beneficiary(ies) in your Will); and
  • to be signed and dated by you in the presence of two witnesses, and then signed by the two witnesses in your presence.  Unlike executors, your witnesses must be people who aren’t named as beneficiaries in your Will. 

Should you use a solicitor or Will-writer? 

Although, as mentioned above, a Will can be a simple document and can be done cheaply by yourself, it’s worth spending a bit more for the peace of mind given by having one drawn up by a solicitor or professionally qualified Will-writer. You should especially consider using one to draw up your Will if:

  • you’ll have to pay inheritance tax; 
  • your family situation isn’t straightforward (for example, children from a previous relationship or you want to make special arrangements for children);
  • you have overseas assets such as a holiday home; or 
  • you own a business which will form part of your estate. 

You need to ensure your Will is a valid document and a solicitor or Will-writer will take care of the complicated bits and ensure no mistakes have been made, for example something as easily overlooked as having it signed and witnessed. 

Your solicitor or Will-writer can also store your Will safely in a fireproof safe so there’s minimal chance of it getting lost or destroyed. 

Leaving a business in your Will 

If you are a sole trader or a partner in a business, the assets of your business or your share of assets in the business will be treated as part of your estate. Therefore, if you are a sole trader and want to pass on your business when you die, it can be treated the same as any other asset in your Will. 

If, however, you are in a partnership and have a partnership agreement, your partnership agreement should have a provision containing what will happen should one of the partners die. If there are more than two partners, then in all probability, the partnership will continue. If there are only two partners, then the partnership will come to an end. 

If you own a business or are a partner in a business, you may be able to claim Business Relief, which will enable you to pass on some of the business free of tax. 

Ultimately, it’s up to you if you have a Will or not. There’s no legal requirement to have one but a Will is a must if you want to make sure your assets go to the right people after you’ve gone. 

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