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Making a Will

Issue: TW Mag May '13

IT’S ALL TOO EASY to put off making your will. Many of us don’t feel comfortable considering the inevitability of death and the effects on those we leave behind. We fall into the trap of delaying making arrangements for some reason or another.

But the fact is, if you don’t have a will in place, the state will decide how to split up and distribute your money, property and possessions after your death and choose any guardians should you have children.

Not having a will can cause difficulties for any remaining family, spouse and siblings both financially and domestically at an already emotional and stressful time. Indeed, I had a client recently who ended up sharing her husband’s estate with her parents-in-law!

With a Will YOU
Decide exactly who inherits what; such as any property, investments, money, valuable heirlooms, car etc
Can specify in your will exactly what type of funeral you require or if you would prefer to be cremated.
Can also choose to leave a legacy to a favoured charity.
Help provide financial stability for your loved ones at a difficult time.
Decide the guardians of your children and not the government. This will prevent the potential of your child/children being taken into care.
Can help your beneficiaries avoid any unnecessary inheritance tax or help provide financially for your children’s future.

If you and your partner are not married then they are not entitled to any of your estate. Even if you have children.
If you & your spouse are separated but not divorced, they are entitled to part of your property, this applies even if you live with a new partner.
If you have no living relatives then your estate will go to the government.
If your children are under 18 when you die then the government will decide who continues to bring them up as guardians.
If you are married without children then your spouse could have to share your estate with your parents.
If you are married with children then your spouse may only inherit half of your estate.

I hope I have outlined the reason why having a will in place is important. And indeed, there will be life changing events when you should review your will and update it. For example if you receive a large sum of cash, if a close family member dies, if you get married, when you retire, if you have children, if you get divorced.

Once you’ve begun the process there is likely to be a feeling of peace of mind that you have taken stock of the situation and helped those who remain by making your wishes clear.