New year, new Will?


More than half of British adults have not made a Will. Of those who have, many have not updated their wills for some time, which is reflected in the soaring number of inheritance disputes heard in the High Court. 

It is a task which most of us put off yet it is one of the simplest steps you can take to ensure your family is provided for after you have gone.

What is a Will?

A Will is often also referred to as the Last Will and Testament. It is a legal document which details how the person making the Will wants their estate to be left following their death. The person making the Will is known as the testator, and their estate includes such assets as property, money, savings and possessions.

If no Will is left when a person dies then the law dictates how assets will be distributed. This could mean that the people who you wanted to inherit your estate following your death will get nothing, and that people who you didn’t intend to benefit from your passing end up with everything.

  1. Reassurance

A Will is the only way to make sure your savings and possessions (your estate) go to the people and causes that you care about.

2. Avoiding disputes between relatives

Disputes over Wills can cause arguments among family members and may even need a solicitor to resolve them. Leaving a Will should remove any doubt about who you want to leave your estate to. Close relatives and dependants may still be able to make a claim on your estate, but a solicitor can advise you on how likely this is and the best way to prevent it.

3. Looking after your loved ones

Although it’s hard for loved ones to talk about death, talking about your Will can save everyone a lot of worry. Deciding who you want to leave your possessions to (your beneficiaries) can help you make sure they go to the people you intended.

4. Protecting your assets for future generations

A Will can ensure that assets are kept within the family and are passed on down the generations.

5. Saving on Inheritance Tax

With a carefully-planned Will, you can also cut the Inheritance Tax bill on your estate after your death. For example, Inheritance Tax isn’t normally paid on anything you leave to a spouse or civil partner who has their permanent home in the UK. Inheritance Tax is only payable if your estate is worth more than a certain amount.

6. Your funeral

Your Will can be a way to let people know whether you would prefer to be buried or cremated, and the type of funeral service and music you would like.

If you die without a valid Will, you have no say in what happens to your estate. Instead, the ‘Rules of Intestacy’ will divide your estate in a pre-determined way and this may not be to people who you wish to benefit. It also may not be carried out in the most tax-efficient way.

If you live with someone, even if you are married, are in a civil partnership or have step-children, they may not automatically inherit your estate. Always review a Will after you have married or divorced.

By making a Will, it should be the case that everyone understands how you wished to leave your estate, and therefore it is vitally important. However, a Will is not necessarily the final say that many people think it is, as there are certain situations where it can be challenged or contested.

For further information on Making a Will, please contact Helen Phillips on 01792 468684 or email hfp@pgmsolicitors.co.uk.

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