New year and still no Will? Here is why you should make a Will in 2024...

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New year and still no Will? Here is why you should make a Will in 2024...

Have you been putting off making a Will, as it never seems like the right time or a priority? There are some common misconceptions about Wills, and many are unaware of the list of potential consequences of not having one. So, why should you make writing a Will one of your resolutions for 2024?

We have put together a list of reasons that you might not have considered.

  1. Choosing who receives your estate (all your money, property and belongings) when you die.

Many people assume that in the absence of a Will, the persons spouse or civil partner will inherit everything. This isn’t always the case. If you die without a Will, the intestacy rules will apply.

  1. Minimise inheritance tax

By making a Will, you can arrange the distribution of your estate to maximise the benefits of any tax exemptions and reliefs. Any assets falling within your inheritance tax nil-rate band can be left to who you choose, tax free. Also, gifts to particular people and gifts of certain types of assets (eg: a business) may qualify for IHT relief.

  1. Choosing your executors

An executor is the person who administers your estate. This is a vital role which includes a lot of work and can be stressful, at an already difficult time.  

If there is no Will, an application to be a “grant of representation” will need to be made so that you can be named as the estate administrator. This will usually need to be a spouse or close relative of the deceased. Application means an added step for your loved ones and can lead to increased stress after your death.

By making a Will, you have the opportunity to select the most appropriate person to fulfil this task and reduce stress for your family.

  1. Appoint guardians for your children

Did you know that if both parents die without appointing a guardian for their child under 18, the children become the responsibility of the court and until the court appoints a guardian, the child may be taken into care?

It is a common misconception that the child would just go to the closest relative (grandparents etc) but this isn’t the case and the grandparents (for example) may need to make an application to become the legal guardian. This also means that others who you wouldn’t want to become your child’s legal guardian could also make applications to become the child’s legal guardian and could be successful.

In your Will, it is advisable to state who you would like to be your child’s (under 18) legal guardian.

  1. Protect your partner if you’re unmarried

If you are an unmarried couple, you won’t automatically be entitled to anything from your partners estate if they are to die, no matter the length of time you have been together. You will only be entitled to the estate if this is specifically stated in their Will. Therefore, writing a Will is crucial to ensure that your partner receives a share of your estate.

  1. Gifting and donating

Do you want to make a gift to a loved one or a donation to a charity or organisation close to your heart? Both of these will only apply if you write them in your Will. Without a Will, the intestacy rules apply and these rules don’t take into account your personal circumstances or necessarily who you would want to receive your gifts.

Perhaps you have previously told a loved one that you want to donate money to charity when you die? This won’t apply unless you state this by making a Will.

  1. Reduce the chances of disagreements over your Will

Without a written and legally binding Will, disputes and disagreements can often occur. Those who don’t believe they have gotten their fair share of the estate, may consult a Solicitor and try and claim back their losses. Disputes can happen even with a Will in place, however by making a Will and clearly setting out your wishes, the chances of a dispute being taken further are decreased.

  1. Care for your pets

In your Will, you can make provisions for your pets and ensure they are looked after by those you choose and who have agreed to do so if you are to die.

When it comes to making a Will, there are three main steps:

  • Decide what type of Will suits you and who you would like to leave money or property to.
  • We will arrange a meeting with you either at one of our offices or if necessary, we can visit you at home.
  • We will prepare the Will for you to check and then make arrangements for you to sign.

We will discuss what is important to you and what type of Will would be best for you.  Our aim is to ensure that making a Will is as simple and straightforward as possible.  

What to do next if you want to make a Will?

So, what are you waiting for? Make 2024 the year you write your Will and bring peace of mind for both you and your loved ones. Our Wills team are here to help you. Click here to contact your local office and arrange your appointment today. 

Do Wills need to be updated?

Yes, Wills can and should be updated to reflect changes in your life or changes in your wishes. There are many points in life where we would recommend you review your Will;

  • Moving or buying a new home
  • When you have a child
  • Marriage or Divorce
  • Re-marriage
  • A significant change in your finances e.g.: inheritance or gifts
  • If you have recently started a new business

If none of these apply, we would still suggest taking the time to review your Will at least every 5 years. Our Wills team can assist in reviewing your Will and can advise as to whether you need to update it. Click here to contact your local office in Chippenham, Devizes, Marlborough, Royal Wootton Bassett or Swindon and a member of our caring wills team will be in touch.

Heather Wannell

Senior Associate, Head of Wills, Tax & Probate

Contact a member of the team  

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