A Will is a document that is consistently underrated. At surface level, it is just a mechanism for redistributing assets on death; however, it can be so much more. The structure of your Will can provide stability for your family and afford you a final written goodbye.
You do not need to own property or be wealthy to make a Will. What is important is recognising what you do have, or might come to have, and what your Will might achieve after your death to support your family.
How can a Will support my family?
1 – Appointing Legal Guardians for Minor Children
If your children are under 18, the easiest way to appoint legal guardians is under your Will.
You will be able to consider who is best placed to care for your children and who they will be most receptive to on your death. It also provides you with the opportunity to speak with your chosen legal guardians to agree how you would want your children raised. Further guidance on appointing legal guardians, can be found in here.
2 – Incorporating a structure to protect your family’s inheritance
In preparing a Will, you can take stock of the risks posed to your family and their inheritance. For example:
Wills for married couples:
You may wish to consider the risk of the survivor remarrying and the impact on your estate. Where this is a concern, you can take steps to ensure your Will provides for your spouse while protecting the underlying assets for your children.
Wills providing for minor children:
Where there are minor children, your Will might include the use of a trust to defer the age of inheritance beyond 18. A trust can safeguard the assets until the children are mature enough to deal with them.
Wills providing for adult beneficiaries:
You can structure your Will to protect your beneficiaries’ inheritance from third party claims, such as bankruptcy or divorce.
3 – Providing for an unmarried partner
Common law marriage does not exist in England and Wales. If you do not provide for your partner in your Will, they will not automatically benefit on your death. Instead, they may be forced to make a claim against your estate through the courts.
To ensure your partner is provided for, you will need to consider preparing a Will.
4 – Easing the burden of estate administration
Proving a Will is significantly less complicated than dealing with the rules of intestacy. For those left to wind up your estate, having a Will can help to make their role easier.
How to prepare a Will that looks after your family
Discussing your personal circumstances and wishes with a solicitor will provide you with the opportunity to consider how best to benefit your family and receive advice on the Will structures available.
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