Thursday, 20 November 2014

Hodge Jones & Allen: Reasons why it is important to make a will

Two out of three people die without making a Will.  When this happens, the estate is distributed in accordance with a rigid set of rules known as the intestacy rules.  Spouses and children receive a set sum.  If you do not have a spouse or children, then relatives take in order of priority. This can have disastrous consequences.

Disadvantages of Dying Without a Will:

  1. If you are elderly with no immediate family this could mean that your estate passes to distant relatives that you have not seen in years.  Friends, charities and relatives by marriage get nothing. Genealogists have to be employed at great expense to trace all the members of your family.
  2. If you and your partner are not married, your partner will receive nothing on your death.
  3. If you and your spouse do not own assets jointly, then your spouse may be forced to sell the house to pay the share of your estate due to your children.

Advantages of Making a Will:

  1. If you have children from a previous relationship, you may wish to make provision for your spouse during his/her lifetime and then ensure that your estate passes to your children after the death of your spouse. Otherwise, if your die first, it is possible that your spouse could remarry or change their Will, cutting out your children.
  2. You can choose guardians to look after your children if they are orphaned under the age of 18.
  3. If you care for a disabled person who receives means tested benefits or local authority funding, we can draw up a Will which sets up a trust fund for the disabled person without effecting their entitlement to benefits or funding.
  4. If you own a property abroad, it is important to make a Will both here and in the country where you own the property.  We can advise on foreign property issues.
  5. Setting out your instructions in a Will prevents future arguments among family members.
  6. If you make a Will you decide who gets what and when.  You decide who will carry out your instructions.  You can take account of individual circumstances so as to ensure that your estate is distributed exactly as you wish.

Home made wills

You can buy a Will from a stationers and complete it yourself. However unless this is checked by a solicitor you will not know whether you might have made a mistake. This could make it invalid or if what you have said is not clear enough the gifts fail because no-one can be sure what you meant. Also home made wills can be challenged on the grounds that you lacked sufficient capacity to make a will or that you were coerced into making the will. When a will is drafted by a solicitor who specialises in will drafting, the solicitor will check the issues of capacity and coercion and make a written record confirming this. This makes any challenge to the will much harder to prove.

Philippa Barton
Hodge Jones & Allen
020 7874 8300

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