Advice about Wills

Whilst most people are aware that making a will is a good idea, it tends to be one of those jobs which can wait until tomorrow. However, it would appear that all too often, tomorrow never comes and of the 2,000 people who die each day in the UK, around two thirds do not have a will.

In such circumstances, the State will distribute your estate in accordance with the strict “intestacy” rules that apply. Although these rules provide for your assets to pass equally and fairly amongst certain family members, they do not take any account of your wishes or the financial consequences that this may create. The results can therefore be disastrous.

This is clearly illustrated by the situation of a man who dies unmarried or divorced, but who lived with a partner. Contrary to public belief, there is no such thing as a common law marriage and the surviving partner would inherit absolutely nothing, unless a specific provision had been made in a will.

One of the most common reasons for not writing a will is the belief that we have nothing to leave, but however modest, we all have something. It should also be remembered that a will does not only deal with the distribution of assets. It is also the opportunity to detail any preferences for funeral arrangements. Burial or cremation, floral tributes or charitable donations, hymms or a favourite piece of music are just some of the issues you may wish to specify.
The main advantage of a will is to ensure that our affairs are dealt with in the way we would wish. It can also prevent your family and friends from suffering financial and emotional hardship following your death and it can often be of vital assistance in reducing any tax liability on your estate.

If a will has been written, or is planned then caution is still required. We would all hope that death will not occur for many years after our will has been prepared and therefore the wording must address a range of “what if” questions. Our circumstances can and do change over time and it is sensible to make sure that the need to regularly update our will is kept to a minimum.

Do-it-Yourself wills are readily available but we would always recommend professional assistance. The cost is minimal and the benefits well worthwhile. However, your choice of will writer is also extremely important and it is not always safe to assume that a general legal practitioner is an expert in will writing or is familiar with all aspects of your particular circumstances.

The key points to bear in mind are:
•         Write a will now, don’t put it off
•         Don’t assume that your estate doesn’t justify one
•         Select your will writer with care
•         Make sure your will takes full consideration of your circumstances
•         Review your will arrangements from time to time

If you would like help writing a will contact the Care Association on 01384 637116 and we can put you in touch with a registered person who will walk you through the process at a cost which is less than half what a Solicitor would charge. This service is geared to people who are in a Care Home or receiving Care at Home; so the registered person will come out to you.

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