Research from the organisation Remember a Charity survey found that more than two-thirds of UK adults (68%) haven’t made a will. This means there are more than 27 million people who are at risk of dying ‘intestate’ with the problems and issues that can cause.
If you want to make sure that your property, savings, or the proceeds of your life insurance policy go to the right people in a timely manner, it’s vital that you consider writing a will.
Here are seven reasons you should make a will right now.
1. To make arrangements for your partner if you’re not married
According to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), cohabiting couples are the second biggest type of family unit in the UK. And, the number of cohabiting, unmarried couples is growing and now represents 17.9% of all households, equivalent to 3.4 million people.
Sophie Sanders, of the population statistics division at the ONS, says: “While married couple families remain the most common, cohabiting couples are the fastest-growing family type as people increasingly choose to live together before or without getting married.”
If you’re not legally married or in a civil partnership, your partner will now be entitled to anything from your estate if you die without making a will. It doesn’t matter how long you have been together, or whether you have children, but your unmarried partner is not legally entitled to anything.
The way to ensure they inherit your estate if you die is to write a will, naming them as a beneficiary.
2. To provide for your children
One of the main reasons that is advisable to make a will is to ensure you provide for your children.
There are two main reasons:
- Writing a will means you can name a guardian if something happens to you. It lets you specify people you trust to look after your children if something happens and you die unexpectedly. If you haven’t made a will, the Court may have to decide who looks after your children.
- A will means you can ensure there is financial provision in place for your children. You may choose to create a trust for your children to make sure they are financially secure both immediately and in the future.
3. It can help you to avoid disputes
A 2019 survey by Direct Line found that almost a quarter of people (24%) people would dispute the wishes of a loved one by going to court to challenge the bequests in their will, if they disagreed with the division of their estate.
With estate disputes on the rise, writing a will can help you to avoid inter-family squabbles on your death.
Without a will, your wishes may not be clear, and this can lead to arguments between your family and friends concerning ‘who gets what’. These disputes can cause lasting damage to relationships and can be expensive if challenges go to court.
A well-written will can help you to avoid these arguments and avoid making your passing even more stressful for your survivors.
4. You can choose who looks after your affairs
As well as deciding how your assets should be divided on your death, your will also lets you select executors who will look after your affairs when you’re no longer around.
You can name one or more executors, and you are able to choose someone who you trust and who you believe will carry out your wishes.
5. It can speed up the division of your assets
When someone dies, there is a legal process that executors go through to wind up the late person’s affairs, pay off any outstanding debts, and distribute their money and possessions to those entitled to inherit them. This is ‘probate’.
If you make a will, it can speed up the probate process which ensures your beneficiaries receive your assets more quickly. Without a will (this is called dying ‘intestate’), there might be delays as the courts decide how to divide your estate.
6. Express your own wishes
As we have seen, your will is designed to ensure your assets are divided according to your wishes. It also helps you to ensure that your partner and children are protected.
But, your will can also contain your express wishes about what happens to you when you are no longer around. For example, would you prefer to be buried or cremated?
You can also include wishes such as:
- Whether you want your body or organs to be donated when you die
- What your funeral should be like – do you have any specific requires for music or readings?
- Where you want to be buried, or where you want your assets to be scattered
- Whether you’d like flowers at your funeral, or donations to a chosen charity.
The only way that those left behind will know what you want is if you’ve written it down in a will. Note that burial and cremation wishes in a will are merely wishes and they are not legally binding.
7. Leave a gift to charity
According to research by Legacy Foresight, legacy giving is worth £3 billion a year to British charities. Another advantage of writing a will is that it can help you to leave money to charity in the form of a legacy donation.
There are typically three types of gift you can give:
- Residuary – this is either a share of, or all of, what is left of the value of your estate once your beneficiaries have been taken care of
- Pecuniary – this is a specific sum of money (for example, you may wish to leave a fixed amount to one or more charities)
- Specific – this is where you choose to leave a specific item to a charity, such as a piece of jewellery or a work of art.
Leaving a legacy in you will is hugely important to charities. Many charities rely on the gifts bequeathed to them by people in their will, so it can be a good way of supporting your chosen causes on your death.
Leaving a charity gift in your will can also have a positive benefit on any potential Inheritance Tax bill. Firstly, the value of any gift that you give to a charity is reduced from the value of your estate before an Inheritance Bill is calculated.
Secondly, if your estate does end up having to pay Inheritance Tax, you will pay a reduced rate of tax (36% instead of 40%) if you leave at least 10% of the value of your estate to charity.
How life insurance helps to protect your loved ones
If you’re worried about what will happen to your dependents when you die, then life insurance could provide you (and them) with some valuable peace of mind.
Life insurance pays a lump sum on your death. It ensures that your family are financially protected when you’re no longer around. They may be able to pay off the mortgage so they can remain in the family home, or the lump sum can be used to replace your income.
Your life insurance can also be written in trust. This ensures it passes directly and quickly to your chosen beneficiaries, and it can also mean that no Inheritance Tax is payable on the proceeds of the life insurance policy.
We can help you to find the right life insurance. Compare life insurance quotes now , and we’ll scour the market to find the best value cover for your needs.