So the New Year has come and passed, you have made the annual list of things you wish to improve and change and with half of January nearly over you may be beginning to wonder about whether that new gym membership was such a good idea or not…..
Did you include getting on top of paperwork in that list? Perhaps making a Will or setting up Lasting Powers of Attorney? Of course not! No one wants to think about death and all things miserable at any time of the year let alone at the start of the New Year. That said, it is never too late to organise your affairs and ensure peace of mind all round.
Do I really need a will?
The usual excuses I hear are ‘My partner will inherit everything anyway’ or ‘I don’t have many assets I don’t need to bother with a Will’ or even ‘It’s not my concern my family can deal with everything once I’m gone’.
The reality is that a ‘common-law wife/husband’ does not exist! It is a misconception and without a Will or marriage or civil partnership a long-term partner will inherit nothing! This could be further complicated if for instance you have been married in the past and never divorced meaning your ex could inherit your estate and your partner could be left out in the cold.
Even if you have limited assets, if you have children, it is vital to have a Will in place appointing Guardians to care for the children in the event that there are no parents around. Without this your children could become the subject of dispute between various family members or worse still end up cared for by the Local Authority.
What happens if I don’t have a will?
If there is no Will in place then the Law determines how your estate should pass and yes your family can deal with this after your passing but the process becomes unnecessarily more complex for them at a time when they are grieving. A carefully thought out Will setting out your wishes means less stress for your loved ones as well as ensuring that your estate passes to the family, friends and/or charities of your choosing. Furthermore, a professionally drafted Will can ensure that Inheritance Tax, if applicable, is kept at a minimum.
I could go on, but I think the message is clear, take action now and start to get your affairs in order. Another vital matter as well as having a valid Will in place is that of setting up Lasting Powers of Attorney which I will discuss in my next blog.
Make an appointment now to discuss your Will before something else crops up, you might even make time to hit the gym later….
Duha Al-Wakeel, LLB (Hons), STEP affiliate, is a Solicitor in our Wills, Trust and Probate department firstname.lastname@example.org and can be contacted via her assistant Anita Simmonds, direct dial: 01273 662753.