When it comes to decisions that you may think are a long way in the future – we tend to put them off, or make excuses: ‘there’s plenty of time’ or ‘it’s too complex’.
It is natural to fear death and we don’t like to think about it, however, the harsh reality is that it is inevitable. The top five most frequently given excuses heard by our team of solicitors are:
1. If I make a will I will die.
Surprisingly, anecdotal evidence suggests that people who make wills generally live longer than people who don’t!
2. Only old people need to make a will.
Tragically some people die young and none of us has a guaranteed lifespan. Certainly, anyone who has children or dependents needs to accept the responsibility and make a will – even if they have little in the way of assets to dispose of. As a minimum, they should appoint guardians for their young children and trustees to manage what inheritance is left.
3. My family know what I want to happen when I die.
If you do not have a valid will your estate will be dealt with under the ‘Intestacy Rules’ which dictate who inherits. This could be someone you intensely dislike or do not even know and who would not simply allow an informal distribution to take place. Your family members may not be able to legally or practically deal with your estate on death, or each of the family members may have a different understanding of your wishes.
Have you considered that failing to make provision for loved ones – or leaving your affairs to be sorted out by grieving relatives, or friends, may even result in tarnishing or indeed blighting their memory of you?
4. I don’t have anything to leave.
It is only when people take the time to think about what they actually own that they become aware of how much they have to leave on death. Take time to make a list and to arrive at a realistic value for your assets. Include your personal possessions e.g. jewellery, cars, caravans, antiques, collections, tools and household goods. Often overlooked are premium bonds, and insurance policies. Death benefits from an undrawn pension fund may form part of your estate. In addition, do you have on-line assets and how are you going to convey confidential access details?
It is impossible to be certain what estate we may have to leave by the time we eventually die. The idea that our will should be a long list leaving specific items and sums of money until we have dealt with everything is very misleading. The most basic will can simply dispose of everything you own when you die, whatever that might be.
5. It costs too much.
How do you value piece of mind? If you make a will, you will know that you have provided for your loved ones, taken steps to reduce any liability for Inheritance tax; possibly protected an inheritance for heirs and considered ways of preserving an inheritance for your spouse.
Your circumstances are unique. Making a will is not just ending up with a document, it is a process of examining your needs and requirements, receiving relevant sound advice and having the best information to make informed choices.
After this careful consideration, only then is the time to draw up a will and perhaps take other steps, in addition to dealing with your assets to achieve your overall aims. A badly prepared will; or no will at all, can result in much greater expense in the long run.
So, if you have been using the above excuses to put off making a will, delay no longer and contact us. We can provide thorough checklists to complete to aid the process and we are fully transparent with costs before proceeding.
For further information on creating or amending a will, please contact a member of our Wills & wealth planning team on 01625 442100.