This week marks the start of “Make a Will” month; a date which occurs each October as a way of raising awareness for people to take control of their estate planning and make this a priority.
It’s an important reminder because even though most of us understand that engaging a solicitor to draft a Will has tangible benefits and will reduce stress for loved ones, it’s the kind of planning which people can put off until a later date.
This year is different. In challenging times, naturally people consider their personal position and finances, as well as reflecting on what they can do to help support those that matter most to them. In 2020, we’ve spent more time at home than ever before, so people are looking to get their own house in order as a result. The data backs this up with online searches for ‘making a will’ reaching an all-time high this year.
The benefits of engaging a solicitor to ensure you have a properly drafted Will are clear:
- it is the only way to ensure that the right people benefit from your estate at the right time;
- your estate will pay the minimum amount of inheritance tax; and
- it can avoid disputes in relation to your estate which are stressful, emotional and costly for all involved.
Who is best placed to help make difficult decisions?
In business and life, we look to the trusted and knowledgeable people around us for their support in taking decisive action.
Careful consideration should be given to who is best placed to be appointed as your executors and trustees. Making a Will gives you the opportunity to choose the experienced advisors or knowledgeable relatives who will be able to make important decisions and ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible.
Trustees will be able to maximise the value of your assets for the benefit of your family. Without a Will it may be left to inexperienced family members to deal with your affairs at a difficult time when there are many other things they’ll need to consider.
A Will is especially important for anyone involved in running a family business or who has a significant estate. Both circumstances can make the administration of an estate more complex and a Will makes a difficult time easier for those left behind. A well-drafted Will also ensures assets pass tax-efficiently.
Who would you like to benefit?
The main objective of estate planning is to make sure that your assets pass efficiently to the people you want them to. Preparing your Will is the only way to guarantee that your personal and financial affairs will be handled in line with your wishes, and that only the people you want to benefit from your estate will do so.
Making a Will is sometimes the only way to ensure that certain loved ones receive a share of your estate after you have died. For example, if you wish for your unmarried partner to benefit from your estate in any shape or form, preparing a Will is the only way to make sure that this happens. If you die without a valid Will your estate would be distributed in accordance with the intestacy rules which do not recognise unmarried partners.
Have your circumstances changed?
Significant life events such as divorce or remarriage should prompt you to review your Will. This is because the act of marriage revokes any Will you may already have in place and divorce, too, has an impact on any existing Will.
If your personal circumstances change, you should seek advice and consider putting a new Will in place. In any event, we recommend reviewing your Will every five years so that your Will remains fit for your circumstances.
If you would like to discuss your existing Will or make a new Will please get in touch with Jane Shaw or Fiona Bushell.