Why common excuses for not having a will don’t cut the mustard
Earlier this month, the Office for National Statistics revealed the wealth of UK households is a staggering £14.6trn.
Increasing house prices and more people saving into private pensions makes up a significant proportion of this but what happens when people want to pass this wealth on?
It is widely reported that around half of adults don’t have a will in place so with an average household wealth of £286,600, people could see their money not ending up where they want it to.
Here are some of the most common excuses for not having a will that we’ve heard and why they don’t stand up.
I’m too young
You’re never too young to take control of what will happen in the future. Even if you don’t own a property and have no money in the bank, you do have things to leave. Digital assets such as the photos on your phone or your social media accounts have value and not only sentimental value. Making a will allows you to say who takes control and inherits your digital and other possessions as you build them up.
Whether it’s a sibling, a parent, a godchild, a friend or a charity, we all have people or causes we care about. A will allows you to clearly state who you want your estate to go to and means your estate won’t pass under the intestacy rules, which may bear little or no resemblance to what you would have wanted to happen.
My partner and I have lived together for years, so everything will automatically pass to them
Even if you and your partner have lived together for years, without a will they have no entitlement to your estate., They’ll have to go to court and make a claim instead.
I’m married so I don’t need a will for my spouse/civil partner to inherit
The value of your estate and whether you have children can affect how wealth passes to spouses/civil partners so don’t take the chance – if you want your spouse or civil partner to inherit, say so.
I’ve got a young family and don’t have time
Life can be hectic but making a will is crucial to ensure that your children are properly supported if you were to die before they reach 18 (16 in Scotland). Not only does a will allow you to appoint guardians and makes sure that social services or the family courts won’t be left deciding what’s best for your children, it also allows you to say when and how you would like them to inherit their share of your estate.
While you may have separated your physical assets and no longer live together, estranged spouses can still have an entitlement to part of your estate. If you made a will previously but have not updated it to reflect your new circumstances, there’s a risk that your ex may be able to make a claim on your estate. And even if you’ve got divorced, if you live in Scotland, that doesn’t invalidate your will so you have to make a new one to override it.
A will gives you the peace of mind that you will pass on as much as possible to the people and causes you care about so we believe that everyone should have one in place. And it’s often best to speak to a professional who can advise you based on your needs both now and in the future.
Shona Lowe is private client and corporate director at financial planning firm 1825