18 Oct Who should prepare a will and why
Who should prepare a will? In a word, everyone. Put simply, if you die without a will you have no say over how your assets are distributed and they will be allocated according to what the law says at the time of your death. The issue comes to the fore whenever a celebrity passes away intestate – without having prepared a will.
This can lead to problems within the surviving family members and others who believe they can make a claim against the deceased’s estate with the heartache and complications that can bring. A few of the most high profile examples are highlighted by the Telegraph, raising awareness of how even the rich and famous can often neglect to do the one thing that will not add an unnecessary burden on their loved ones. While most of us are not celebrities or have the assets of one, what we do have is important to us.
Who should prepare a will?
Anyone should but it is particularly important if:
- You have any assets – such as property, investments, an insurance policy, or your own business
- You have children
- You live with someone but not married
How do I prepare a will?
You can do it yourself if it is straightforward, however, you should seek professional advice if not. This could include situations such as where you own a business, live with someone but are not married, you have property, or live overseas. The list is not exhaustive and you should always seek advice if you are unsure.
To prepare a will you must first list your assets. Once you have done that you need to decide how they will be allocated when you die – in other words, who you wish to get what. You may want to specify details of how you wish your funeral or cremation to be. If you have children who are still minors, i.e. under 18 years of age, you will want to name their legal guardians or make financial provision for them until they become adults. Finally, you must name an executor – someone who will ensure that your wishes are adhered to. This could be a friend or family member or your solicitor. Whoever you choose, you should talk to them first to make sure they are happy to do this and they should be familiar with your financial matters.
Do I need to update my will?
You should review it from time to time to make sure that what is in it still reflects your wishes. You may have got married or divorced since you originally prepared it and wish to make changes. If you have bought or sold any assets, such as a home, car, or business interest, then you should make sure the changes are reflected in your new will.
What happens if I die without a will?
If that happens then your assets will be distributed according to what the law says, which may not be how you would have wished things to be allocated. Having a will also means that your inheritance tax obligations may be reduced enabling your loved ones to have more of what you intend to leave them.