Are you one of the 54% of British adults that doesn’t have a will? If not, when was the last time your will was updated?
Nobody likes to think about their death, particularly when they are healthy and young. But creating a won’t have to be a stressful or scary task, and there are professionals who can support you through the entire process.
Creating a will and arranging a Lasting Power of Attorney is an important errand for all adults. The uncomfortable, yet simple task could save your loved ones a tremendous amount of unnecessary stress if you passed away.
In recent times, people across the world have been assessing their life circumstances due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. We have all realised the importance of spending time with family, caring for our health and not taking anything for granted.
At Duke Godley, we recognise how these unprecedented times have affected our clients and the broader community. We have put together this article explaining everything you need to know about wills and LPA’s. If you have any questions or are yet to draft your will, you can contact us here.
What is a will?
A will is a legal document that outlines the distribution of your assets and wishes after death. Wills can contain a variety of requests, including:
- Who gets your assets and exactly how much?
- Who will not receive anything? Some people choose not to leave assets for estranged relatives.
- Who will take care of your children?
- Whether you will make any donations to charities?
You can learn more about wills and estate planning here.
What happens if you don’t have a will?
If you don’t have a will, your assets will be divided based on the Laws of Intestacy. In the UK, this means that if a person dies without a surviving civil partner or spouse, the estate is distributed in equal parts to their children. If a single parent dies intestate (without a will), the courts decide who will take care of their children.
If you don’t have a will, ask yourself this question: Do I want strict Government laws to determine the distribution of my estate, or do I want to control the future of assets I have worked hard to earn and care for?
The Laws of Intestacy state that if a person passes away and has a surviving civil partner or spouse, their partner receives the whole estate if its value doesn’t exceed £270,000 (as per the tax year 2020/2021). If it exceeds that amount and the deceased has direct descendants, the partner will receive £270,000 and half of the remaining total, while the rest is divided amongst the children.
If the deceased person does not have a will or a surviving partner, the division of their estate is determined by their other surviving relatives. For example, if the deceased has living parents, they receive the full estate. If a person doesn’t have any living relatives though, the entire estate goes to the Crown.
How old do you have to be to make a will? What about young parents?
Unless you are a young soldier or sailor on duty, you must be 18 years old to make a will. A common misconception about wills is that only elderly people require one. This is wrong, particularly when talking about parents of young dependents.
If parents to a young child suddenly died in an accident and didn’t leave a will, the guardians of that child would be determined by the courts. If you create a will, however, you can decide who would care for your child. This decision is challenging but important. Concerningly, 59% of British parents don’t currently have a will.
Ultimately, creating a will is not a selfish or self-centred task. For parents, it offers peace of mind that if a tragic event stopped them from being a parent, their children would be cared for by wisely selected guardians.
Why might I need to change my will?
The details within your will are likely to be vastly different as you age. For example, your will at 30 years of age would be vastly different to when you’re 80. Various life events can alter the requirements of your will and updates should be made to reflect this. These include:
- Marriage, divorce, or separation.
- The birth of a child or grandchild.
- If a person in the will dies.
- Change in laws or location.
- If the value of your estate changes significantly.
- When your child turns 18.
What’s a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is an appointed person that can legally make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to. There are two types of LPA: health and welfare, and property and financial affairs. They must be over 18 and have the mental capacity to complete all necessary tasks.
Your health and welfare LPA make decisions about your medical care, daily life, where you live and potential life-sustaining treatment. Whereas your property and financial affairs LPA manages your investments, selling your assets, paying your bills and collecting benefits.
We suggest you make a will and decide on an LPA. You can learn more about whether you need an LPA by watching the relevant video on our resources page here.
How should I store my will?
Your will is an important legal document that should be safely stored. The National Will Storage System is an excellent way to store your will and LPA’s to ensure they remain on the record, easily retrievable, and secure.
What are some unknown facts about wills?
To complete our article, here are some facts about wills you might not know:
- Your debts don’t die with you.
- You cannot leave your assets to a pet. (A person once left £8m to a Maltese dog!)
- When you pass away, your will becomes public information.
- Your will can be challenged when you die.
- Donating to charity in your will can reduce Inheritance Tax.
- Inheritance Tax can be reduced if a will is properly planned and organised by experts.
Need to create or change your will? Contact us.
Getting a will doesn’t have to be a long or expensive process. At Duke Godley, we can help you to efficiently and easily organise your will and LPA.
The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate taxation, trust advice, will writing, and Savings products.
Duke Godley Financial Planning Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.