Everyone needs a Will, I can’t disagree. But in some circumstances the outcome of not having a Will is far more hurtful and financially harmful to a Family than others.
Here are six times when a change in family circumstances means your family absolutely need you to have a Will.
Why Have a Will?
It makes life easier for those left behind as you’ve already nominated someone to manage the sharing our of your estate and all the administrations (the executor) at a time that is hard enough for those you love.
It means that your savings, pensions, home and whole estate go to the people who you would have wanted them to, so you are not running the risk of the Rules of Intestacy deciding who gets what.
You can make provision for care of your children, both physically and financially.
Just remember, only things you own in your name alone can be left in your Will. Anything jointly owned goes to the joint survivor(s).
Rules of Intestacy
Without a Will the rules of intestacy are followed and share out your Estate following pre-existing rules.
These rules first look to see if you were married or in a civil partnership.
Then they move through looking for your nearest living next of kin. This is potentially a huge problem if you are co-habiting, remarried or share a blended or step family. Complex families are not supported by the simplistic nature of intestacy.
To see who would receive what share of your Estate without a Will, check the rules here
1. You’ve got Children under 18
Children under the age of 18 can not inherit until they become an adult. Without a Will your nearest next of kin can apply to take care of the estate and your children will inherit on their 18th birthday.
With a Will, you can choose a trustee (the person who will look after their inheritance until that age) who you know you can trust to take care of their inheritance, potentially for many years.
You can also select a Guardian. The person who you trust and is willing and able to raise your children in the way you would have wanted them to. Remember if the other parent is still alive they will have “parental responsibility” whether you are together or not. If you both pass away your chosen guardians will step in.
You can also use a Will to specify the age you want them to inherit some or all of your estate beyond age 18, for example 21 or 25.
2. You’ve Re-married
Marriage revokes any existing Wills so when you say I do, any previous Wills are no longer valid.
Without a Will your spouse will be viewed as your first financial dependant and will inherit the first part of your estate before any children or family members. This may be what you want, but if either of you have children from previous relationships this could be a risk for them.
And they are then free to leave their estate, including the share from you to whom ever they want.
3. You’ve children from previous relationships
I should probably have put this as number one as the worst case scenarios from this can be heart-wrenching.
I’ll give you my Family as an example.
Without a Will, the first £270,000 of my estate would first go to my current husband and the remainder shared equally between him and then my own three children.
Then if he passes away without a Will his would go to his son (my youngest) my eldest two from my previous relatiohsip would not inherit anything further. Imagine being a sibling in that scenario or the step-parent perceived to have disinherited.
Children include legally-adopted sons or daughters (but not stepchildren).Intestacy Rules
4. You’re Co-Habiting
When you don’t have a Will and you are co-habiting, your partner is not viewed as a next of Kin and will get missed out where the Rules of Intestacy are followed.
This is probably the most common mis-conception and cause of upset I see. I still recall one elderly gentleman sat in front of me in my old office, his partner of 20 years had passed away so her children inherited the home and yes, they made him homeless so they could sell the house for their inheritance. Heart-breaking but sadly it happens, all too often.
A surviving partner who wasn’t married or in a civil partnership with the deceased has no automatic right to inherit.Intestacy Rules
5. You want ‘conditions’
If you plan to gift to your adult children or spouse but want to include an ‘if, but, when, how or where’ then you will need a Will
A common example is as follows and involves your share of a home.
You want your children to benefit from your half of the shared property (when you each own a share, this is different from jointly owned) but you also want your spouse to be able to live there first until they pass away. This is gifting to someone in your Will BUT they have to wait until the condition has been met.
Another example might be you want your children to inherit but only When they reach a certain age. Or perhaps you have a vulnerable family member who you want to get an income for life and then the remainder go to someone else.
These types of Circumstances can be complex and require specialist Wills advice.
6. Financial Changes
The above examples all reflect family changes and circumstances that don’t match the old rules of intestacy.
Likewise if you have a significant change to your finances, for example you’ve set up a business, recently inherited, increased or decreased your net worth or got close to your inheritance tax threshold, then these would be triggers for a Will review too.
Set an Action
Any change in family structure or financial triggers are key times you must review or write a Will.
If your circumstances matched any of the above, in particular with a family structure add an action to your To-Do list today to arrange a Will.
It can be done in a matter of hours with a specialist Will Writer for the cost of a few hundred pounds.
That’s worth every penny and minute of time, for the value, peace of mind and for those you love to be protected at one of their hardest times.
Book a Will Discovery Call