It is understandable that so many of us put off the task of making a Will. It makes us think about our mortality and consider things which we hope will never happen. However, without one, you might be surprised to find out how easy it is for your assets to be distributed in an undesirable way. The exact rules of distribution depend where in the British Isles you live as some details differ between Scotland, Ireland and England & Wales. However, if you are not married, for example, the law is united in saying your partner may get nothing. Without a marriage certificate, your children and parents will benefit instead.
Even if you are married, there are many good reasons for making a Will. First and foremost, it allows you to take positive decisions over who gets what – including friends, friends’ children, charities and local societies who are entitled to nothing without your say. You can also decide if ex-partners – or perhaps more importantly, ex-partner’s children – should be helped out. And, if your estate is greater than £325,000 (£650,000 for married couples), a Will can help you plan to reduce your Inheritance Tax liabilities. In thinking like this, making a Will can actually become a positive, rather than negative experience. Considering such things in advance can help your peace of mind and ensure that all your family and friends will be looked after in exactly the way you want them to be.
Alexandra Mitchell is a Partner at Watsons Solicitors.