In the UK, 6 out of 10 adults do not currently have a will in place, according to research carried out by Standard Life in April 2012. The report also found that of those with children, just 27 per cent have a will.
What is the reason for the lack of planning?
It seems many of us simply don’t get around to it, or feel that it’s a bit of a hassle going to see a solicitor and having it all done properly. Many of us seem very happy to rely on the state and assume that should the worst happen, all our assets would simply be passed on to our next of kin. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily true.
Why are the figures worrying?
If you do not have a will or a binding declaration when you die, your intestate estate will distributed to beneficiaries under the rules of inheritance. These rules follow the immediate family tree to determine the beneficiaries and which aspects and values of the estate are to be passed on, regardless of the deceased’s verbalised wishes. Clearly, this may have severe ramifications for family members, particularly for estates comprising several properties, large physical assets, cash sums and sentimental personal items.
It is vital that all adults have a will, so that in the event of death the estate is managed appropriately and in accordance with the deceased’s wishes, recorded with the probate registry. Regardless of the size of assets, it’s it important that all of us carefully think through our wishes, at the very least to avoid family disputes and further distress following our death.
As early as possible, it is important we consider our finances and seek advice to ensure we can provide for the later stages of life and make plans for the specialised care we might need too. It is an unfortunate fact that some of us may not be able to look after ourselves later in life. We might need to rely on others for our care, so it’s important we understand all the options available such as lasting power of attorney, which can ensure personal affairs are managed safely in any event.
When should a will be drafted or amended?
You should first create your will when you begin to accumulate assets such as cash savings, insurance policies and physical property such as cars, but also keep in mind that all personal possessions may also need to be accounted for.
When a will should be updated
· If you purchase property of any description
· When you take out insurance policies with high-value returns
· If you live with your partner, or when you get married or enter in to a civil partnership and, critically, when you have children
· If you are spending a significant part of your time abroad or purchase property overseas, you will need to comply with other laws and may need to make significant adjustments to ensure your wishes are protected
· When you reach retirement to ensure that arrangements are sufficiently in place
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