Why you should make a will

Are you thinking about making a will, or putting in place a power of attorney but haven’t got around to it yet?

Your will tells everyone what should happen to your money, possessions and property after you die (all these things together are called your ‘estate’). If you don’t leave a will, the law decides how your estate is passed on and this might not be in line with your wishes.

We believe that one of the kindest and most thoughtful acts you can ever do for your loved ones is to make sure financial arrangements are in place, through a will or a power of attorney (POA), in case you die unexpectedly, or your physical or mental health deteriorates.

Many people look upon making a will or organising a power of attorney as the sort of tasks that they’ll get around to eventually, but sadly, never do. Rather than leaving it for another day, if you sort your will or POA now, you’ll really feel the benefit from a huge sense of relief by knowing that your family or friends won’t have the stress of dealing with difficult situations. Once things are in place, you can then get on with enjoying life.

Four reasons why you need a will

It’s easy to make a will and it will save your family unnecessary distress at an already difficult time.

  1. A will makes it much easier for your family or friends to sort everything out when you die – without a will the process can be more time consuming and stressful.
  2. If you don’t write a will, everything you own will be shared out in a standard way defined by the law – which isn’t always the way you might want. > click here to read who will inherit if there is no will
  3. A will can help reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax that might be payable on the value of the property and money you leave behind.
  4. Writing a will is especially important if you have children or other family who depend on you financially, or if you want to leave something to people outside your immediate family.

Your wishes and who carries them out

Your will tells people two very important things:

  • Who should have your money, property and possessions when you die.
  • Who will be in charge of organising your estate and following the instructions you leave in your will – this person is called your ‘executor’, and you can name more than one person if you want to.

You can also use your will to tell people about any other wishes you have, like instructions for your burial or cremation.

Your executor will do their best to make sure your wishes are followed, as long as they don’t involve breaking the law.

What happens if there is no valid will?

When a person dies without a valid will the legal term for this is “intestate” and this can occur if:

  • A will cannot be found
  • If the will is deemed invalid, for example – if the person did not have the mental capacity to make a will
  • If the formal requirements for witnessing the will have not been met
  • A partial intestacy can occur where there is a valid will, but it does not completely dispose of the estate
  • The laws of intestacy will apply

The key points to consider if you die without a valid will in place are:

  • Your estate is distributed under the intestacy rules
  • If your will’s invalid, your estate will be treated as if you had no will
  • There’s a strict order of who would inherit your estate
  • Only direct family will inherit under intestacy: not unmarried partners or friends
  • Situations may be complicated by multiple marriages and divorces
  • Financial dependents who don’t inherit under intestacy may be able to make a claim under the Inheritance Act
  • Making a legally valid will is the best way to protect your estate and have a say on who inherits

Regardless of the cause, dying intestate has the potential for significant disputes between family members and can cause problems both financial and emotional for those who are left behind.

How can we help?

Trying to organise a will or a power of attorney on your own can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. Often it’s the thought of bequeathing the small, but personal things which can be the hardest. We can guide you through it and make the whole process simpler.

For help with organising a will or POA simply contact Mark Robinson at our Swansea office on 01792 483860, or email: markrobinson@portfolio.org.uk

Please Note

Wills and Powers of Attorney are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority