What is a Will?
A Will is a vital and very important document which operates to dispose of most types of property or assets owned by an individual after his death.
Why make a Will?
(a) It avoids uncertainty as to whether of not one has left a Will which can save much unnecessary time spent by the surviving relatives in searching amongst the papers of the deceased person or of Solicitors or Will Writers in the locality or localities where one has resided.
(b) One can choose one's Executors namely one or more persons whom one can trust to carry out one's wishes as contained in one's Will after one's death- maybe one's spouse and/or close relatives, friends or professionals
(c) One can control the destiny of one's assets
(d) One can make provision for the objects of one's affection such as immediate family and dependants friends and acquaintances and one's favourite charities
(e) One can stipulate what part of one's estate should bear the burden of any Tax liability that may be applicable to one's estate such as Inheritance Tax
What about if somebody dies without a Will?
When a person dies without leaving a will, apart from property in joint names with their spouse or other individuals which may pass by survivorship to the surviving joint owners - unless the parties own the property as tenants in common - their assets must be disposed of according to the intestacy rules.
Under the UK law, only married couples and civil partners and surviving children whom failing certain other close relatives are entitled to inherit the property under this rule. Some cases may be straightforwardly simple, whilst others may be very complex. You may often see some devastating stories in the media. Failing to make a Will can put one's loved ones especially unmarried Partners in a very difficult and vulnerable situation after one's death, particularly at such an emotionally distressing time for them.
Sometimes, even if there is a Will, there may be a partial Intestacy in relation to property which has not been disposed of in the Will which stresses the importance of making a valid will covering all their assets.
Important Ingredients of a Will - some optional some mandatory
Appointment of Executors
Expression of wishes regarding burial or cremation and whether one wants a Funeral
Specific Gifts (Legacies) of Personal effects
Gifts of money (Legacies) to individuals or charities
Appointment of Guardians for one's minor Children in case they should be orphaned by the loss of both parents
Bequest of One's Residence
Clarity in the Will as to whether or not the Legacies should be subject to or free from Inheritance Tax and from what part of the Estate any debts funeral expenses the legal costs of administering one's estate and any Inheritance Tax liability should be paid.