Fiona Ward is a private client solicitor at our Windermere office, dealing with Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and probate matters. Here she share her thoughts on how the coronavirus pandemic has caused an increase in will-making enquires, but also explains for those who are not yet convinced that they need a will, why you actually do!
“Most solicitors will agree that there was a huge surge in instructions for wills (new and updated) shortly after the lockdown was put in place in March last year. The instructions came from those who probably already knew why they needed to ask for a will or should have their existing wills updated. Faced with a global pandemic which appeared to be attacking people without regard for age or health, this was perhaps no surprise. Now we find ourselves in lockdown 3 and the high levels of enquires continue.
In 2018 54% of UK adults did not have a Will, according to Which. Here a just a few reasons why you need one:
- Unmarried with children? If an unmarried couple have children together, having a guardian appointed in a will will ensure that if both parents die before the children reach the age of 18 they will be cared for by the person the parents choose. This is the most common way of appointing Guardians for children.
- Single parent? The single parent of children under 18 who does not have a will means the children will inherit their estate, but it will be held on trust for the children (until they are 18) by their surviving parent. Is this what a single parent always wants?
- Who will deal with things once I’m gone? If you make a will, you get to choose your executors i.e. who will be in charge when dealing with your estate. If you have a business, a will ensures a smooth succession and business continuity.
- What happens if I don’t have a will? If you die without a will you will probably cause your loved ones unnecessary stress, and your estate could be distributed in a way which you had not intended; according to the Intestacy Rules. If you live with your partner but are not married to them nor in a civil partnership with them, they will receive nothing from your estate. Contrary to what many believe, there is no such thing as a common-law wife or husband in the eyes of the law.
- Who will get what? Even if you are married or in a civil partnership, if you have children the Intestacy Rules only permit your surviving spouse/partner to inherit £270,000 and your personal possessions, and your children will inherit the rest of your estate. Is this what you would want?
Using a qualified solicitor to draft your Will is the safest way to ensure your wishes are carried out. Will drafters do not need to be qualified nor have insurance should things go wrong. Solicitors have insurance, years of training behind them and an obligation to keep up to date with the changes in the law and the current tax regime.
If you have a bad tooth you wouldn’t pull it out yourself. You would go to a qualified dentist. Let Thomson Hayton Winkley save you the pain of a badly written Will. If you don’t have a Will, please put this right.”
You can contact Fiona at our Windermere office on 015394 46585.
Published 21 January 2021
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