“Making a will won’t kill you!”
This is what I said to my Granny, who had a real superstition about it. She genuinely believed that if she made a will, she would tempt Providence and instantly pass away.
We had “the will” conversation at her 92nd birthday party. My mother had baked her one of those cakes in two separate tins shaped as a “9” and a “2”. We iced it and presented it so that it read “29”, which made my grandmother very happy.
I was 29 myself at the time and had qualified as a solicitor. I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t make a will until I was in my mid-thirties and married with my first child.
70% of us don’t have a will but 90% of us worry about what will happen – time to do something about it
Making a will is something that most of us don’t think about. Or we put it off for a future date when we are going to have some free time or available cash. Shockingly, around 70% of the UK population don’t have a will and yet about 90% of people worry about passing their money, intact, to their children and grandchildren.
For most people, the three big worries are the taxman, the spectre of nursing home fees and the prospect of protecting family wealth for succeeding generations. Unfortunately, if you don’t make a will, you cannot expect that your money, property and belongings will pass, automatically, to the people that you really want to benefit.
The “standard” family
In 2015 the Office for National Statistics reported that 42% of marriages ended in divorce in England and Wales. In 2013, 19% of men and women who were divorcing, had also had a previous marriage which ended in divorce. This percentage figure was 10% in 1980. It had almost doubled.
One consequence of marriage breakdown is that it produces complex family situations, often involving grown-up children of first marriages and second wives with younger children. Many court cases have arisen where one marriage partner expects the other to “do the right thing by my adult children.”
Don’t assume you will inherit from your partner
The intestacy rules apply a “one size fits all” solution to an estate where there is no will. Some couples do not marry or enter into a civil partnership, although they are in committed partnerships that have lasted for many years. If one of them dies without making a will, their partner could face the appalling prospect of having to apply to a court for maintenance from the deceased partner’s estate.
The bereaved partner will not automatically receive anything. They rarely receive the whole estate. It is an expensive, nightmarish process at a time when they are grieving. Imagine the additional trauma if they have minor children.
Looking after your loved ones
If you are in a committed relationship – you need to make a will. Likewise if you have minor children, you need to make clear provision for them and choose the people best suited to look after them if the worst were to happen. If you have a disabled child, it is possible to incorporate a trust into your will. This will ring fence money for that child.
Why you need to make a will
A carefully drawn will dramatically improves your chances of minimising tax, avoiding care home fees and keeping your money out of your children’s divorce settlements. It also provides security and peace of mind for the people you love.