The Law Society’s research has shown that only 64% of people over the age of 55 have made a will. This means that over a third of people in this age group have not. If you die without having made a will, the statutory rules governing who will inherit from your estate, known as the “intestacy rules”, take over. These rules changed in October 2014 and set out a hierarchy of relatives to inherit from your estate. These rules may work for you, but for most people the chance is that they will not, and so making a will is the only way to ensure that your specific wishes for what happens when you die are carried out.
Firstly, you have the opportunity to select who will inherit from your estate. This may sound obvious, but it is overlooked by so many people whose estates are subsequently distributed to people they may have not liked or wanted to benefit, or who they may never have even met. (It also allows executors to be chosen, who will be responsible for administering the will, but not necessarily who will inherit from it.)
Secondly, making a will allows you to decide who to leave a legacy to in the form of a possession (e.g. a piece of jewellery or a record collection) and/or a fixed sum of money, (for example, £1,000 to a grandchild) before the rest of the estate is distributed. This is simply not possible if the intestacy rules apply in the absence of a will.
Thirdly, should you wish to leave money to charity, whether to one or more charities, this is only possible via making a will. There can be inheritance tax advantages as well if you leave money to charity. This is certainly not possible under the intestacy rules, where there is even a risk that all your estate could pass to the Crown! Law Society research has shown that £8m in 2013 went to the government simply because people had not written a will.
Finally, making a will allows you to formally set out other important matters including funeral wishes, who you want the guardians of your child or children to be if you die and they are aged under 18, and who you want as backup beneficiaries of your estate to be in the event
that any of your chosen beneficiaries die before you.
At Capron & Helliwell, one of our friendly team in the private client department would be happy to assist you in discussing your circumstances and preparing your will for you. Even if you are not entirely sure who you would like to appoint as your executors or name as beneficiaries, we can assist you in advising you on the options available to help you make an informed choice and ultimately give you that all-important control over what happens to your estate when you die.
This article aims to supply general information but it is not intended to constitute advice. Every effort is made to ensure that any law referred to is correct at the date of publication and to avoid any statement which may mislead. However, no duty of care is assumed to any person and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy. Always seek specific advice.
Capron & Helliwell Solicitors offer a range of legal services at the firm’s Stalham and Wroxham offices near North Walsham and Norwich in Norfolk. The firm specialises in areas including family law, conveyancing and private client law including wills and probate. Capron & Helliwell Solicitors offer free family law clinics – please call 01692 581231 for further details or to make an appointment.