Making a Will has never been more important. The “traditional” family unit of Mum, Dad and 2.4 children is now merely one of the myriad of family set ups that exist. People are choosing to remain unmarried and often have children from different relationships. Making a Will may sometimes been seen an unnecessary headache but in reality it is essential to avoid complicated and upsetting situations.
By making a Will you can ensure that your assets go to the people you wish to benefit and, crucially in the case of children, allow you to appoint people you trust to look after those assets for the children.
Imagine a single parent with a child and no Will in place. Although his or her estate (i.e. money, property, etc.) would pass by law to the child, it would be held for that child until he or she reached 18. Someone would need to be appointed to take care of the assets and invest them appropriately for the child. With no Will in place it would be open for anyone to apply for that role; an obvious choice might be the child’s other parent. In many situations this would be the last thing that the deceased would have wanted.
A Will also allows the parent to set a higher age than 18 for the child to take control of the assets, which may be very desirable in some cases. They can also grant the Executors extra powers to advance funds to the child early, if appropriate, thereby ensuring that the child would have access to financial assistance should they need it, e.g. education costs, to provide a deposit for a house.
Secondly, imagine a family where there is a Mum, Dad and two children. Dad dies unexpectedly; no Will in place. The house was in his sole name. Mum and Dad lived together for 20 years but were unmarried. Mum is entitled to nothing under the laws of intestacy and all passes automatically to the children. Although Mum could take legal action to receive some of the assets, she would essentially be making a claim against her own children who otherwise stand to benefit. Potentially this is an expensive and emotionally damaging process for all involved.
Even if a couple are married, this may be a second marriage with children from previous relationships on both sides. A Will allows you to balance the needs of your new spouse and your children to ensure that all are well provided for.
Making a Will can be difficult and it forces you to confront what is, naturally, a topic you would rather never have to deal with. Decisions have to be made, but better they are made by you than by the Court after lengthy and emotionally draining proceedings following your death. By leaving a Will your family and friends would know what you had wanted.
We are happy to explore all the different options and talk everything through with you so that you can have peace of mind that your affairs are in order.