You have to make a way! A Will is easy to overlook, it’s something that you keep meaning to get round to doing, you put it off until a later date or make it your New Year’s Resolution (it then remains in the pile of things to do the following year). But a Will is one of the most important things you can do; it allows you to make plans for what would happen to your loved ones in the event of your death.
Once your Will is in place it is important to review it every couple of years, you must make sure that your Will reflects changes in your life and is updated, particularly if you are going through a separation or Divorce.
If you have an existing Will which appoints your spouse as Executor (the person nominated to carry out the directions of your Will) or Beneficiary (the person nominated to benefit from your estate) the effect of a divorce is that the Will still remains valid, but any reference to your former spouse is deemed to be written out of the estate and will pass to the next tier of mentioned Executors/Beneficiaries.
If you are not yet divorced but are going through legal proceedings remember that if you have an existing Will making provision for your spouse this will still be valid. You need to speak to your Solicitor about changing it before the divorce is finalised. You need to consider whether your soon to be ex-spouse could make a claim for maintenance and the implications of owning joint property.
If you die without a Will in place your estate will be distributed according to ‘intestacy provisions’ i.e. according to rules laid down by statute. This can result in complicated trust arrangements being put in place and the danger of assets not going where they are needed.
You need to consider if someone will have parental responsibility for any minor children and whether you need to appoint a testamentary guardian in your Will to look after your child’s welfare.
It is often a misconception that unmarried couples, who live together, have automatic rights to their partner’s assets on death. This is certainly not the case. Will planning is a complex area at the best of times but becomes even more challenging when you need to factor in difficult family relationships. Advice should therefore be sought from a specialised Solicitor at the earliest opportunity.
KBL has considerable experience in drafting every type of Will, from simple family Wills to more complex tax efficient Wills. The firm has a specialist team who can advise on a range of matters from lifetime Tax Planning through Trusts, Powers of Attorney and Will drafting to Probate Administration, Elderly Client Matters and Court of Protection.
For further information please contact Susan Hartley, Associate and Head of Wills, Trusts & Probate at KBL on 01204 527777 or visit our website www.kbl.co.uk