We’ve all heard of wills, it is certainly a subject that crops up a lot at Life Ledger, but for many of us, they’re something that gets put off over and over again. After all, it’s not something that we need to think about yet… is it?
Currently, around 50-60% of UK adults don’t have a will. That’s a pretty staggering statistic when you consider how much of our lives, we pour into earning our assets. You would think we’d be keener to make sure they go to the right people at the right time. But there are several, understandable reasons why so few of us have written our will yet.
For many, it’s unpleasant and disconcerting to consider our own mortality. For others, they have the common (but inaccurate) belief that they have ‘nothing to leave’. And for a huge number of adults that haven’t even reached middle age yet, the hectic nature of our full-on day-to-day lives means that writing a will is one of the many tasks that gets put off until tomorrow.
However, writing a will is of vital importance to us all – no matter age, income, or assets. Beyond simply allowing you to specify what goes to whom, it allows you to protect your loved ones (including your four-legged or feathered friends), reduce the risk of squabbling and arguments, minimise Inheritance Tax payments, and give people sentimental assets – to name just a handful of the benefits.
Here are 10 reasons we hope will convince you to get cracking on your will.
Name someone you trust to take care of your estate
In your will, you will name an executor. This is the person who will be responsible for ensuring the will and its instructions are followed to the letter.
Depending on your circumstances, you may wish to name the executor of your will as a family member, or even a friend. Alternatively, you might prefer to appoint a solicitor. Although the solicitor option would have a cost, they will be completely impartial and highly experienced in the legal process.
Protect your children
By putting a will in place, you can ensure that your children will be safe and provided for by appointing a guardian, who will then take on the role of caring for them, in the event of your death.
If you are in a relationship with the other parent, they will automatically take on the role of their sole guardian. However, with a will, you can name your chosen guardian to take care of your children if both parents were to die unexpectedly.
Quick note: before including them in your will, we would recommend having a conversation with your chosen guardian to inform them of your intentions and confirm that they would be willing to take on this role.
Ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes
If you do not write a will, then some of the most important people in your life may not be entitled to receive any of your assets.
For example, if you are not married, you would need to write a will to make provisions for your partner. Currently, the UK law dictates that they are not entitled to receive any part of your estate, unless it is specifically mentioned in your will.
Name a carer for your pets
In the same way that you can name a guardian for your children, you can use your will to name someone you trust as the carer of your pets.
This way, you can ensure that your beloved pets will be safe and well cared for in the event of your passing.
Another common inclusion in a will is a financial gift, left to the person who will be caring for your pet. Think of it as your contribution to food and vet bills.
Protect your home
If you want to leave your home to someone specific, it is essential that you declare this in the will. Alternatively, with a will, you can give different people a share of your property, or even give them the right to reside there for the remainder of their lives.
No matter what you decide, if you don’t include this request in a will, they could end up losing any claim to the house, even if it was what you wanted.
Avoid Inheritance Tax
It is a sad fact but even when we die, there’s still tax to pay.
Inheritance Tax is notoriously high. In fact, the standard Inheritance Tax rate in the UK is 40% (on the portion of your estate that is above the threshold). But, by preparing for this tax through your will, you can minimise the amount of tax that is liable to be paid after your death.
Ensure your assets are divided fairly
Naturally, you will want to ensure that your estate is divided fairly between the members of your family.
This is really important for people who have children, particularly any children from a previous relationship or marriage, creating a will is the only way to ensure they receive a share of your assets.
You may also wish for friends or family members (outside of your immediate next of kin) to receive a share of your assets. With a will, you can explain your wishes in detail.
Protect your digital legacy
It’s a very 21st-century concern, but digital assets are another important inclusion in a will.
These include all manner of online purchases, such as websites, photographs, and music. If mishandled, these can be lost forever.
To protect these assets, you can use your will to name who you wish to put in charge of managing all things digital. It can also be a good idea to include reference to a digital will, in which you leave usernames and passwords to digital accounts (but take note, this should be separate from your Last Will and Testament).
You can support a charity
In your will, you can leave a legacy to a charity that you admire, has helped you, or that means something to you. You can specify the donation that you’d like to leave to a charity (or charities), either as a percentage or a fixed amount.
This is a wonderful way to use your assets to make a difference in the world.
Enjoy complete peace of mind
Quite simply, creating a will alleviates any anxieties that you may have about what happens after your death.
You know that your children, pets and dependents will be safe and cared for, that your assets will go to the people and charities that you want to benefit, and that all of your wishes will be followed. Not only will this give you peace of mind, but it will also benefit your family, as they will know that they are acting according to your wishes.