A common misconception is that you do not need to make a Will in order to ensure that your assets pass to your loved ones when you die. This is not always the case and it is therefore very important that you have the benefit of legal advice in order to make sure that upon your death your assets do pass where you intend.
Just because you are married does not mean that your assets will pass to your surviving spouse upon your death. If you are married with children, and have not made a will, then the law says that your surviving spouse will receive the first £250,000 of your estate “the statutory legacy.” One half of your remaining estate will then be held in a trust so that your surviving spouse receives an income from that half. Your children will receive the remaining half of your estate absolutely.
This could cause problems for your surviving spouse. If you own your home jointly as tenants in common and a half of your home is worth say £250,000 then if you have not made a will your surviving spouse may receive your half of the home as their statutory legacy. However they will not receive any other capital absolutely. Instead half of your remaining monies and assets will be held in trust so that the survivor receives an income. The other half of your monies will pass to your children. With investment returns at a fairly low rate the trust is unlikely to generate enough income to support the surviving spouse and they will not have access to the capital.
If the surviving spouse feels that they have not received sufficient funds from the estate then they may have to make a claim against the estate. This can be costly and very stressful.
It is also important to make a Will if you have no close family. If you do not then the Treasury Solicitor may have to become involved in tracing your next of kin. This can be costly and again may end up benefiting people who you do not wish to receive your assets. If you are putting off making your Will because you do not know who to leave your assets to then please think about benefiting a local charity. There are many worthy causes that would gratefully receive a legacy from you to help the local community especially when government funding and lifetime donations to charity are at an all time low. There can be inheritance tax advantages in benefiting a charity.
Making a Will is one of those things that we think about but put off. It really is very simple to do. Making a Will ensures that your assets do pass in accordance with your wishes.
Furthermore a Will gives peace of mind to your family and friends who are left behind as it really is a statement of your wishes that your executors are obliged to carry out.
At Dixon Stewart we want to encourage you to have an up to date Will that carries out your wishes. Call us today and arrange a free appointment in order to review your Will or make a new Will. At that free appointment we will advise you of the costs of updating your Will or making a Will for the first time. You can then decide whether you are happy to proceed.