The first most obvious reason to make a Will is to ensure that those (and only those) you want to benefit from your estate after you die will in fact benefit. Those entitled under intestacy (see above) may not be the same people that you would actually want to benefit.
The second reason is that, by making a will, your estate can be distributed to your beneficiaries faster and with fewer costs. This is because executors will have been named who can speedily apply for probate and deal with the estate in accordance with your wishes in the will. Without a will, your (usually) next of kin will have to apply for a grant of letters of administration and distribute the estate in accordance with the law of intestacy. In this respect, if your relatives have a disagreement, the chances are that the professional fees for dealing with the estate will also be higher, as more work will be involved.
Another reason for having a will is specific to those whose intended inheritors include minor children. Here, whether there is a will or not, any funds that a minor child inherits will be held on trust for him or her until they attain age 18. This means that someone will have to act as trustee and, by using a will, the testator can exercise control over who that person is.
If you don’t have a will, the terms of any trust arising on intestacy will be specified by statute, including such old pieces of law as the Trustee Act 1925. If you make a will, you decide the terms of any trust and any powers you want the trustees to have. Of course, trusts are not only made for the benefit of minor children. If it is desired to specify successive interests, for example someone to have an income for life and after their death for someone else to benefit, this can only be achieved with a trust and, once again, it will be best to set out the terms of the trust in a Will.
Finally, many individuals these days acquire holiday or second homes abroad. Whilst leaving assets without a will in one’s home country is bad enough, it gets significantly worse if properties are owned in other jurisdictions. There would be considerably more cost as well as the fact that in certain European countries the law prescribes who must inherit on a person’s death. A UK will is likely to be accepted in most European countries, although sometimes it is recommended that a local will is also executed in respect of any property situated in that country that mirrors the provisions under the UK will.
At Lexington Wealth Management, we want to help our clients to not only fulfill their aspirations today but also leave a legacy. Should you wish to discuss any area of this series of posts in more detail, please post a comment below or contact a member of our team.