Don’t have a will? Protect your finances now
Published 18 October 2016 by Linzi Nuttall
Almost three in five of us don’t have a will – find out why you should make one.
It’s important for all of us to plan for the future, whether that’s having a little nest egg for retirement, paying off the mortgage, or being debt free. No matter which stage of life you’re entering, it’s important to give financial security for those closest to us – parents, children or loved ones, especially in later years.
Making a will to say what will happen when you’re no longer here is a really good idea, to ensure that any assets you have are left to those you care about, and not the hands of Government intestacy rules.
Surprisingly, recent research shows a staggering three in five UK adults haven’t written a will according to Prudential and Unbiased.co.uk. Let’s take a look why it’s important.
Who needs a will?
A will is important as it ensures that those closest to you aren’t left dealing with complicated financial problems, in a time of grieving. Though talking about wills can be uncomfortable, it’s practical to make it part of your financial plans in case the worst does happen. It’s better to sort it now while you still can before it’s too late. It also ensures that your money, property or possessions aren’t divided by the Government under Intestacy rules.
What a will ensures
Though you might assume you don’t own enough to write a will, it’s a good idea to make sure that your future wishes, responsibilities and assets can be taken care of. Start with the biggest assets – that’s your house, car, and savings – and consider whom you want to leave what to. You should also look at any smaller and more sentimental items such as furniture, jewellery and any charity donations.
There are many other things you’ll need to think about when writing a will. We’ll take you through a few of them below.
• Dependants – who do you want to take care of your children if they’re under 18, and how do you intend them to be funded until they become independent?
• Unmarried – the law won’t recognise your partner if you haven’t made a will so make sure to include them.
• Divorced - you may choose to update your will to distribute your assets in case your previous partner remarries.
• Pets – you love these too, so make sure they’re looked after as well.
• Funeral plans – you may want to be buried, cremated, have your ashes scattered in a place you love but unless it’s in the will, your requests might not be met.
• Keep details up to date –always ensure your will is updated accordingly to reflect personal changes in life, marriage, divorce, new partners, children or any other milestones.
How to get a will
Many say they’re put off by writing a will because of the cost implied, but there are several ways of doing this, including writing your own.
• DIY – there’s no reason why you can’t write your own will and in the past it was done this way, but remember a will is legal binding document and needs thorough consideration. You can download or buy a kit but it won’t advise you on inheritance tax liability, or if your personal affairs include several marriages, children with different partners or if you’re a business owner.
• The professionals – hire a solicitor or financial advisor who specialises in writing wills to ensure everything is above board and watertight. For a fee, they’ll write the will for you but also offer advice on what your aims are and help take advantage of the transferable-nil rate band. Look at the Law Society or Society of Will Writers to get an idea of fees, services and to ensure you get the best professional help. This month (October) is Free Wills Month supported by well-known charities and participating solicitors. It offers the over 55s the opportunity to write or update a simple will for free. So if you qualify for this, it might just what you need to get you think about the future of your finances.