Do you really need a Will?
Did you know that 50% of UK people die without making a valid Will?
But do you really need one?
We sit down with Andrew from our Estate Planning Team to find out…
Andrew, can you start by telling me a bit about your role at Joslin Rhodes?
Yes of course, I work in the Estate Planning Team as an Estate Planning Officer.
My role involves dealing with Wills, Trusts to help with care fees planning, Lasting Power of Attorney and Inheritance Tax.
Proper estate planning is all about making sure your money, property and possessions go to the right people, at the right time and aren’t lost unnecessarily by lack of planning.
As well as being the Estate Planning Officer I‘m also a member of the Society of Will Writers. Being accepted as a member means I’m providing the best possible service to our clients.
Could you go over what a Will is?
Yes, a Will is a legal document that provides your instructions in the event of your death.
Instructions are required for where your assets are to go, but also about more practical matters.
You can write as many Wills as you like over your lifetime, it’s only the most recent one you wrote and signed before your death that’s valid.
Okay, but do I really need one?
Absolutely, without a Will the intestacy rules are put into place and they will decide who your assets will go to.
This works by looking at your next of kin, so if you’re married with no children your partner receives everything, if you have children your partner receives the first £250,000 plus possessions and half of the remainder. Your children will receive the rest.
If you’re not married but do have children, everything passes to your children equally.
If you don’t have children it goes to your nearest living relative in order of your parents, then your brothers and sisters, then grandparents, then aunts and uncles.
If there’s no living relatives everything passes to the crown.
What other reasons are there for getting a Will?
The first thing to realise about a Will, is that you are not doing it for yourself. You are doing it for your family, who have the responsibility of dealing with your estate and implementing your decisions when you are gone.
Here are some of the reasons you should do a Will for your family:
To make it clear who you want to be the executor and administrator of your estate.
If you don’t instruct this in your Will, your family have to work it out between themselves. This can lead to arguments, mistrust and fall-outs, even in the tightest knit families, especially when people are grieving and may not be thinking clearly.
To make probate easier.
If you have a Will the process of probate is much simpler and easier. Without a Will it takes time and hassle. Why would you want to make it harder for the people you love?
To allow your spouse or partner to keep living in your home.
If your home makes up a high proportion of the value of your estate, your surviving spouse or life partner might be forced to sell it to fund payments for tax, or your bequests to children and other relatives.
To appoint guardians for your children.
If your children are under 18 then you need to decide who’d care for them in the event of your death and make that nomination within your Will. Without it, social services may invite applications from your wider friends and family which may bring someone forward that you wouldn’t have chosen.
It is helpful to tell your family how you want to be laid to rest, if you don’t they have to argue between themselves. Aunty Irene thinks you should be buried in a certain ceremony but your wife is pretty sure you want to be cremated. Uncle Bob thinks it should be a religious service but your kids think otherwise. It all gets very messy very quickly, again at a time when people are least able to cope.
So as not to give your estate to an estranged husband or wife.
Your surviving spouse comes top of the list of beneficiaries if you leave no Will. So, if your marriage has broken down but no divorce has been finalised, your surviving spouse (now your ‘ex’) might inherit your estate.
So not to ignore your unmarried life partner.
If you live with someone and you are not married or in a formal civil partnership, your life partner has no automatic right to inherit anything from you if you die intestate.
I won’t need a Will until I’m older though, will I?
I would recommend that any adult with any form of assets should have a Will in place. As long as you have assets to your name they will need to go somewhere after your death. If you own property, vehicles, savings, or investments these are all assets that I would recommend having in a Will.
No matter what your age is I would recommend that your assets are put into a Will, to make sure that they reach the right people after your passing.
Can’t I just write my own Will?
Well, when writing your own Will this comes with a lot of risks.
A poorly drafted Will is just as bad as not having one. It is easily contested and can cause more headaches than it’s worth.
Can you tell me more about the Society of Will Writers and how it protects the public?
The Society of Will Writers protects the public in many ways.
Before I could become a member I had to complete a strict and vigorous application process.
This application process has been put in place by the Society to make sure that its members are of a high standard.
Now that I am a member I must continue my training with at least 24 hours of mandatory training a year.
The Society of Will Writers has member principles, some of which include a member must act with integrity, a member must conduct his or her business with due skill, care and diligence, and a member must ensure that any assets that they hold on behalf of a client are fully protected.
Also, as a member I can receive technical support to ensure that the best service is being given to the client.
Is there a way to reduce inheritance tax by using a Will?
The standard rate for inheritance tax is 40%. The 40% rate is only charged on the part of the estate that’s above the tax-free threshold. Currently the tax-free threshold sits at £325,000.
Inheritance tax can be reduced by using a Will and leaving a part of your estate to charity, this money will not be taxed.
What makes Joslin Rhodes different from a solicitors?
At Joslin Rhodes we help you to create your Will from a more holistic point of view.
If you went to a solicitor to deal with your Will they will allow you to tell them what you want and that is it. However, at Joslin Rhodes we will challenge your choices and make sure that you are doing what is best for yourself.
A solicitor will be looking to create a Will quickly, whether it covers what it needs to or not.
Once the Will is created by a solicitor they will have access to the probate. The probate is a legal document that gives you the authority to share out the estate of the person who has died, by following the instructions they have left in their Will.
At Joslin Rhodes we recommend having a family member as the one who can access the probate. The person who accesses the probate is given the authority to share out the estate, following the instructions given in the Will.
Thank you, Andrew for taking the time to chat with us.
Need help with your Estate Planning?
If you need help writing a Will, have questions about an existing Will or want to chat more about making sure your money, property & possessions go to the right people.
We’re here to help.
Use the form below to arrange a call back.
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From Wills to Lasting Power of Attorney, Inheritance Tax to Care fees Planning, this workshop covers everything you need to know when it comes to estate planning.
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Meet the team
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