Why you should ask your parent to write a will
There are a number of important reasons to ask your parent to write a will.
Two thirds of adults have not made a will. Many do not like to think about their own mortality or they assume that their partner will inherit everything should they die, but this is not always the case and siblings and parents can also have a claim on your property. For instance, living as “man and wife” does not mean that the law regards you as such. If one partner owns the property the two are living in, then the next of kin might be able to force a sale of the property, despite the other partner still living in it.
The Independent has put together an article that explains how important it is to make a will to ensure that the intended beneficiaries from your estate on death receive their entitlement. These could be relatives, friends or charities, with the creation of a will leaving no uncertainty or ambiguity, which could result in a dispute arising in the absence of a Will
What happens if someone does not make a will?
If there is no will, then in an ideal scenario, the family would share the deceased’s estate equally and amicably. This requires every family member to work unselfishly as a collective, especially if there is large amounts of money to be divided. According to the BBC, the family of a reclusive Newcastle resident were able to do exactly that when they found a collection of classic cars hidden in a garage left to the family in a will. However, this is an unusual example and as a general rule, it is far better to have made a will, as otherwise, when dividing the estate of someone without a will, the rules of intestacy will apply, which are:
- The spouse will receive all personal items and the first £250,000. In addition they will receive a life interest in half the remainder of the estate
- The rest of the estate will go to children and this could result in Inheritance Tax being paid
- Working out the spouse’s entitlement on intestacy may be very complex and costly
- If there are no spouse and children, the estate will go to more distant relatives, with whom you may have had no contact with for years whilst close friends are excluded
What should someone consider when making a will?
- Who are to be your Executors? In other words, who will administer your estate when you die?
- If you have children under 18 years, who will be their guardians?
- If you want to give relatives or friends legacies, to whom and how much?
- If you want to benefit charities, which charities and what amount? Any gift to a charity is exempt from Inheritance Tax (“IHT”)
- As regards the residue, which is everything that is left after payment of debts, funeral expenses and IHT, who will receive those monies and in what proportions will they be paid?
How can your older relative go about making a will?
Writing your own will
If you write your own Will and get it wrong in the way it is signed and witnessed, the Will will be invalid and intestacy rules will apply
It is not recommended to write your own will unless the estate is very small and consists only of money and not of property
If you are unclear in the will, or it is not signed properly, then it could be declared invalid
Using will writers
Will writers are an alternative to solicitors, but unlike solicitors they don’t have to be qualified or regulated
They tend to be cheaper, but will not be able to advise on tax planning and IHT matters
Saga Legal are a specialist in will planning and maybe a bit more expensive than lower cost DIY services, but they say “that careful estate planning is the best way of ensuring that the people you want to inherit your money, property and possessions actually do”. Their fixed fees also allow you to get a lot for your money for example advice on drafting a simple or complex Will to meet your needs to organising a Lasting Power of Attorney to securely storing your Will.
If it is a minor change this can be done by codicil – a written amendment to a person’s will- which must be dated, signed and witnessed just as a will would be, and must make some reference to the will it amends
Can you change a will once it is made?
The simple answer is yes.
A major change can be made by signing a new will.
A new will revokes any will already made
After death by a deed of variation
A Will which you make can be varied by your Executors and Beneficiaries within two years of your death
All parties affected by the changes must agree and sign a Deed of Variation. This is usually prepared by a Solicitor.
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