Nearly two thirds of Adults in the UK don’t have a Will

One thing is definite in life, we are all going to die, so isn’t it shocking that nearly two thirds of adults in the UK don’t have a will.*

WHY? Well there are some simple reasons like, they haven’t prepared one because they feel uncomfortable about it, think it applies to old people or simpler explanations such as their previous will has become null and void after marrying or remarrying, they forget to update their wills once children are born or their will still include ex partners or people they wanted to exclude.

If you die without a will, intestate as it is known, you leave a huge problem for those left behind with your estate not being divided up the way you may have wanted. For instance, unmarried partners have no right to inherit anything, no matter how long or serious the relationship was. Only married or civil partners and some other close relatives can inherit under the rules of intestacy.

It is important to point out here that the intestacy laws differ in Scotland to those in the rest of the UK. So be sure to check it out.

So, making a will is not difficult, there is advice on how to do it yourself, but if you are unsure or have a complicated plan consult a solicitor. 

Why do you need one, well there are some pretty obvious reasons:

The most obvious is saving stress and arguments with the family once you have gone. It can become a long and difficult drawn out process sorting out an estate.

It ensures the right people get what you want to leave them. For instance, children or step-children under 18. You should choose who will look after them, which might mean appointing a legal guardian.

Appoint an executor to make sure the will is followed, and each person get what they are entitled to. 

Your Partner, the law doesn’t really recognise unmarried partners, so don’t expect anything to go to your partner if you don’t make a will.

Your pet’s welfare, what you want to happen to family pets.

Funeral planning, if you know what you want your funeral to be like, you can detail it so that your family doesn’t have to make the decisions.

Your property, ‘Joint tenant’ mortgages automatically pass to the other owner. If you’ve a ‘tenants in common’ mortgage, it’s important to say what happens to your share of the house. If you own a property overseas, inheritance laws may be different to the UK.

If you are a small businesses owner, a sole director, it’s possible that if you die without executors, nobody can authorise payments (including to staff), so your business could collapse.

Reduce inheritance tax, if you die intestate, as mentioned, there are strict laws about to whom and how your estate is distributed. There are two problems with this, first, the money may not go where you want, and secondly, it’s likely to be inefficient for inheritance tax purposes.

You pay 40% of any assets worth over £325,000 that you leave, so those with valuable houses or larger estates may face a large inheritance tax bill. Yet there are many legal ways you can plan ahead to reduce this.

Finally, what makes a valid will?

Well it should say how your estate should be shared out when you die.

Was made when you were able to make your own decisions and you weren’t put under pressure about who to leave things to.

Is signed and dated by you in the presence of two independent adult witnesses, and then signed by the two witnesses in your presence. Remember that the witnesses can’t be people who are going to inherit from the will. 

If you want to change your will, you can’t scribble or add in things to the original will once signed and witnessed.  Any obvious alterations on the face of the will are assumed to have been made at a later date and don’t form part of the original legally valid will.

The only way you can change a will is by making a codicil to the will which is an amendment to the will leaving the original intact or write a completely new will.

Check out our other blogs for information on other aspects of your will.

*ROYAL LONDON SURVEY DECEMBER 2018

https://www.royallondon.com/media/press-releases/2018/december/perplexed-by-wills/

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Funeral Services

Coronavirus: Funerals 'could be streamed online' if COVID-19 ...

At the moment, it’s not possible to  have a funeral service for our loved ones in the traditional way. A limit of between five and ten members of the immediate family can attend and this in itself is far too distressing for many. We need to look at an alternative way of remembering our loved ones and celebrating their life. 

We could conduct a conference memorial service via Skype or WhatsApp, or we could celebrate their life while isolating at home the same way. Technology being what it is today means that it may be possible to view a funeral service online, remotely, instead of attending in person. As such, it could also be recorded to watch at a more convenient time. We have to do the best we can at this difficult time… If you should ever find yourself in a position where someone has died, either in your family, or a member of the public, from COVID-19, you should keep well away from the deceased. You should call the doctor, or 111, or an out of hours number. You should also call 999.

Benefits & Financial Support

Financial and emotional support: The friends and family that are left behind can face difficult times ahead coping with the death along with the financial worries if that extra income is lost to the house hold, the deceased did not have a funeral plan or insurance set in place. (more copy to come for this page)

Benefits: You may be entitled to receive some benefits when you lose a loved one within the family. A great resource for this of course in the direct.gov website where you can check your eligibility and process your claim. Here is a few of the benefits that you may be entitled to:

Bereavement Payment (One off payments of £2,000) before 6th April 2017

You may be able to get Bereavement Payment if, when your husband, wife or civil partner died, you were either:

  • under State Pension age
  • over State Pension age and your husband, wife or civil partner wasn’t entitled to a State Pension based on their own national insurance contributions

Additionally, your husband, wife or civil partner must have either:

  • paid enough National Insurance contributions
  • died because an industrial accident or disease

Bereavement Support Payment (monthly payments) after 6th April 2017

You may be able to get Bereavement Support Payment if your husband, wife or civil partner died on or after 6 April 2017.

You could be eligible if your partner either:

  • paid National Insurance contributions for at least 25 weeks
  • died because of an accident at work or a disease caused by work

When they died you must have been:

You can’t claim Bereavement Support Payment if you’re in prison.

Monthly payment depends on the details you submit on the payment calculator: https://www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators 

Widowed Parent’s Allowance

You may get Widowed Parent’s Allowance (WPA) if all the following apply:

  • your husband, wife or civil partner died before 6 April 2017
  • you’re under State Pension age
  • you’re entitled to Child Benefit for at least one child and your late husband, wife or civil partner was their parent
  • your late husband, wife or civil partner paid National Insurance contributions, or they died as a result of an industrial accident or disease

You may also claim WPA if you’re pregnant and your husband has died, or you’re pregnant after fertility treatment and your civil partner has died.

Bereavement Allowance (once Widowed Parent’s Allowance has ended).

You may get Bereavement Allowance if all the following apply:

  • your husband, wife or civil partner died before 6 April 2017
  • you were 45 or over when your husband, wife or civil partner died
  • you’re under State Pension age
  • your late husband, wife or civil partner paid National Insurance contributions, or they died as a result of an industrial accident or disease