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A lasting Christmas gift: 6 reasons why you should make a will

Writing a will is one of the most important things you can do for your family: It legally protects your partner, children and assets and spells out how you want things handled after you have passed away.

Yet it’s estimated that approximately 33 million people in the UK do not have a will. Do you?

Wendy Scarr, Senior Solicitor from our Harrogate office joins us on the blog to look at 6 very good reasons why you should have one.

A will puts you in control

A will is a legally binding document that lets you decide how you would like your estate to be distributed on your death. You can specify exactly who will inherit and what they inherit. You can also decide who oversees the administration of your estate.

If you die without making a will, your estate will be distributed by the Rules of Intestacy. These rules set out a rigid order of people who can inherit from your estate and do not include your partner, unless you are married or in a civil partnership or your close friends. In practice, your estate usually passes to your spouse or closest relative. If you have no living or traceable spouse or blood-relatives, the money could go to the Crown.

It will help your family

Not having a will, will put your family under additional stress at what is already a very distressing time. No matter how close you are or what was promised, without a will, the law decides how your estate is divided.

Appoint a guardian for your children

If your children are under the age of 18 years, and you have sole parental responsibility, you can appoint their guardians in your will, outlining who should take care of them if you die. Without a will, the decision can end up in the Family Courts and they may not make the same decision that you would have.

Provide for your children / step children  

Families come in all shapes and sizes and it is not unusual to be married more than once. Whilst you may wish to make provision in your will for your new partner, you may also wish to protect your assets for your children from a previous relationship as well. This can be achieved in your will.

If you have step-children and would like them to inherit, you will need to include them in your will and there is no entitlement under the Intestacy Rules.

Protect your partner if you are not married

Unmarried couples are not entitled to anything from each other’s estate without either being left something under the terms of a will or bringing a claim under the Inheritance Act, which is often a lengthy and complex process.

It does not matter how long you have been together; if you want your partner to get a share of your estate, you must make a will.

Save money on inheritance tax

Leaving a will can help to reduce the amount of inheritance tax payable on your death. For example, if you leave everything to your spouse or civil partner, there is normally no tax to pay. If you gift your home to your children or grandchildren, the inheritance tax threshold can increase from the standard £325,000 to £450,000.

Need a will?

This Christmas gift your family and yourself peace of mind by making a will. You can contact Wendy and the rest of the private client team below

Wendy was a Private Client Solicitor based at the firm's Harrogate Office. She has over 12 years of experience dealing with complex cases including taxable estates and probate work.

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