Around half of all people do not have a will. This means that, when they die, they die “intestate”. The rules of inheritance in intestate estates, are currently to be found in legislation from the 1960s, which takes no account of special bequests or modern relationships. The distribution as laid down by law can cause difficulties, discord and distress, amongst surviving family members. Those whom we would wish to benefit are not always entitled to do so in terms of the legislation. In addition, the cost of administering an intestate estate is greater than the cost of administering an estate where a will is in existence.
Making a will ensures that you choose who will deal with the winding up of your estate, upon your death. If you have young children, your will can appoint a guardian to care for them into adulthood, and can set out detailed provisions regarding the management of their inheritance until then.
More of us now, are part of a non-traditional family. We may have been married more than once, we may have children from more than one relationship, we may have partners with whom we have co-habited for many years. It is only by making a will, that one can ensure that those who inherit our estates are those closest to us, in terms of our relationships, and not just as recognised by law. Fewer people marry today, than at any time in the last hundred years. Unfortunately, the law has not quite caught up with that fact. If you die, unmarried, and without leaving a will, your partner will not automatically inherit your estate. Court proceedings may be necessary, expensive, and may create family discord, none which, of course, we would choose. The only way to ensure that our estates are distributed in accordance with our wishes, is to make a will. Creating a will is straightforward, however, expert legal advice should be sought to ensure that all of the nuances of the modern family, and extended families, can be taken into account. Expert legal advice should be sought to ensure that your will is in valid form.
If you have a will, you should ensure to review its terms every 3 – 5 years. Family circumstances change; people marry, divorce, co-habit; children reach adulthood, and, our estates may grow to the extent that advice should extend to ensuring tax efficient preparation for the future. A will written in one’s 30s, is unlikely to be fit for purpose into one’s 40s, 50s and beyond.
If you have not already made a will, now is the time to make one. Please contact us at Millen Solicitors. Our experts will ensure that the process is straightforward, effective, and that your wishes are clear and binding, in the event of your death.