Why is writing a will so important?

It may come as some surprise to hear that only about half of Britons have written their will. Perhaps many have put off preparing for the end as it’s too grim a subject, or simply because it sounds too daunting. But it is an immensely helpful thing to have, and not at all too much trouble to do. Thanks to Kwil, you can access, amend and affirm your will from anywhere.

What is a will? It is the legal document detailing how you wish your estate, or possessions, to be distributed after your death, and who you trust to carry out your wishes. Having a will ensures that your loved ones will receive their allocated portion of your estate, whether that be from your financial assets, like bank accounts and property, to sentimental possessions, like pets and cherished bits of jewellery.

While it may seem like a challenging task, a will can provide you with the peace of mind that your estate will be looked after when you’re gone. Rather than potentially leaving this task up to your already-grieving family, you can save your loved ones’ time, money and stress by sorting it out yourself.

Why do I need a will?

Those who are delaying making a will, who are parents and/or are in a partnership, probably think that their family arrangements mean they don’t need one. As it seems obvious that they would want all their assets to go to their immediate family. But this is not always the case. And if you are unmarried, how your estate will be inherited can be even more problematic.

UK law dictates that dying without a will, means that the Government will determine how your estate is liquidated. In this case, your loved ones could be in danger of losing out via the intestacy rules.

What are the intestacy rules?

If you die without a will, or with one that is invalidated, whether because it was poorly written or not signed, it is known as dying intestate. Under these circumstances, there are certain protocols that will be applied to how your estate is divided. This can result in drastically different results to how you would have wanted your estate to be liquidated.

Under intestacy, if you have a surviving married/civil partner and no children, then your partner will inherit everything. If you have a surviving married/civil partner and children, then your partner will inherit everything up to £270,000.

If your estate is worth more than £270,000, then your partner will inherit up to £270,000, as well as half of the remaining sum of the estate. The other half will then be divided equally between your children.

If your partner dies before you, or you are no longer with them, then your estate goes straight to the children. If your children have already passed away, then it will go to any grandchildren, or great-grandchildren.

If you have no immediate family, then your estate passes to your first available relatives according to this order: parents, siblings, half-siblings, grand-parents, aunts and uncles, and finally, cousins.

What is left out during intestacy?

While it seems that intestacy follows a logical route, ensuring your closest family receives your estate, sometimes this does not reflect our wishes. Sometimes we would like to leave part of our estate to members of our extended family, to a friend or even an institution or charity. Sometimes we will have certain wishes as to how our estate will be distributed within the family. This can extend to potentially disinheriting those who under intestacy would stand to gain from our estate.

More importantly, under intestacy, your estate will not be divided in a way that will ensure it avoids inheritance tax.

Writing a will ensures that your estate is divided in the most tax-efficient manner and that those you name as your desired beneficiaries receive their full share.

What information goes into a will?

A will should contain your personal information, including your full name, date of birth, current address, marital status, the personal information of your children, and whether you have any pets, etc.

The will should then clearly list all your assets. This should detail everything that you own, including property, valuable items, stocks, etc. Any debts you owe should also be listed here to ensure the correct value of your estate.

You should then name your beneficiaries. These could range from your family members, friends, businesses or charities. Their details should be clearly given along with what portions of your estate you want them to inherit. You can also allocate gifts, although there are certain rules that apply to this.

The most important part of writing a will is naming your executor. This person’s responsibility is to ensure successful probate, that is the paying of any debts you may have and the liquidation of your estate. While it can be a family member, sometimes it’s better to choose a close friend for this role, but you must check with that person first.

If you have those in your life who are financially, emotionally or otherwise dependent on you, like children, disabled, vulnerable or elderly people, you must name a guardian for them. If you don’t have a partner, this can be a close family member or friend, but again, you must check with that person first. You can also name a guardian for any pets you have.

If you have any dependants who you wish to leave part of your estate to, but who are unable to make decisions for themselves, whether due to age or illness, etc., you can leave it with a trustee. They will hold onto it until that person is ready to receive it. It is often the case that the executor acts as a trustee, but anyone can be named.

Finally, any funeral wishes you may have, such as its arrangements, or maybe what music you would like to be played, can be put at the end of your will.

While this may seem a lot of information, thanks to Kwil, writing your will is in fact, a quick and easy process as you are guided smoothly through the process, with a chance to ask questions either using live chat or on the phone, as you go.