14 Misconceptions About Wills

Getting your parent (or loved one) to create a Will as soon as possible will save money, effort and – most importantly – heartache down the line.

Benefits Of Getting A Will:

  • It will save money when it comes to organising the estate – the average cost without a Will is £3,000, which will ultimately become your responsibility if matters haven’t been properly organised.
  • The inheritance tax that will need to be paid will be less if there is a Will in place.
  • Losing a loved one is difficult, and making sure your parent has organised their Will in good time will help avoid family issues, estate disputes and disagreements over funeral plans.
  • Once their Will is sorted, your parent will have peace of mind that matters will be taken care of in line with their wishes.

Advantages:

  • It will give your parent the opportunity to decide and select where (and to whom) their money and possessions will go to.
  • If their health deteriorates, the Will can state who will manage their financial affairs if they are incapable.
  • Drawing up a Will beforehand will enable them to authorise an ‘executor’ to their property and possessions, meaning that there will be no chance of (or need for) court intervention.

What Happens If There Is No Will?

Losing a parent is an incredibly difficult process to go through and – quite simply – the drawing up of a Will in good time means that unnecessary distress can be prevented following their death.

The process of dividing up an estate when there is no Will available is called intestacy.

The Rules of Intestacy mean that without a Will – even if your parent verbalised their wishes to you beforehand – their property and possessions may not go to the people they expected or wanted it to.

Intestacy is based on a set approach that dictates in the absence of a Will – and thus the absence of a person named the executor or administrator of the estate – the job of organising and distributing the estate will automatically fall to the closest living relative. This will be done without taking into account what your parent’s relationship was like with that person prior to their death. The automatic nomination of an executor as per the Rules of Intestacy means your parent or guardian’s last wishes may not be observed, simply because the person who has been awarded the responsibility by law doesn’t know what the wishes for the estate were.

In cases of your parent’s being unmarried, there is a different set of issues to be considered. There have been situations in the past where unmarried mothers and fathers have had to sue their own children for a share of their deceased partner’s estate due to the fact that in these sorts of cases – the children get everything. Again, to avoid ANY unnecessary issues, it is always best to get a Will in place.

14 Misconceptions About Writing A Will And Responses

Below are 14 misconceptions we regularly hear.

Misconception Response You Could Use
I’ve got no money, it doesn’t matter. You can choose not to write a Will if you’re happy with having your state’s law dictate where your possessions will go. And it’s not always where you would like them to go!
Your mother/father will get everything. This is not true – there are rules set out by government that deal with estates of people with no Will. Dying without a Will is called intestacy or dying intestate. In fact, if you’re not married or in a civil partnership, then my mother/father won’t legally be entitled to anything.
We are a close family, you will sort it out and agree between yourselves. If there is no Will, then it is out of our hands – the government decides.Even if you believe that once we get that money that we will split it fairly, you’ll be surprised. Any death is followed by intense emotions, which can lead to the smallest of issues causing the largest disputes (in most cases, arguments stem from painful feelings and emotions, rather than desire to get more money).
I won’t need to pay Inheritance Tax. Unfortunately, that’s probably not true – many people need to pay inheritance tax without even realising that is the case.For people who are married, in a civil partnership or widowed, the threshold for inheritance tax is £650,000 per couple. For people who are unmarried – or single – the Inheritance Tax threshold is £325,000.
It’s expensive. Wills are not expensive in comparison to the potential cost to your family. On average, not having a Will costs £3,000, which will be added to the stress and heartache of bereavement. Getting a Will done can cost less than £200.
It takes too long/is too difficult. That’s not true – getting a Will sorted can take just a couple of hours of your time. The rest will be done by a solicitor / Will writer. All you need to do is choose where you want everything to go and they can do the rest.
Everything I own is joint with someone else This can be the case, but only if you are married. Also, it is unlikely EVERTHING you own is joint owned – think beyond the big assets like property and focus on smaller, but possibly just as valuable or sentimental possessions, which may need to be considered to avoid heart ache for your family down the road.
You know what I want. You may think that we do, but it’s a difficult conversation to have and we probably haven’t discussed everything. In order to ensure we do what is required of us, it is best to have it formally written down in a Will. Besides that, without a Will, there is a chance it will be out of our hands anyway.
I will make a will when your mum/dad dies. Mum/dad dying shouldn’t be the event that forces you to draw up your Will. Especially considering the fact that he/she might live longer than you and not drawing up a Will means further issues for them to deal with during the bereavement period.
I will do this when I’m older. There is no time like the present! Once you’ve written a Will, it isn’t then set in stone, you can change it as you go.
Making a Will is tempting fate. Unfortunately, death is inevitable! For the sake of avoiding heartache and stress for us – your loved ones – it’s worth getting it done.
Your mum/dad will sort it out and look after you. Unfortunately, once again, it’s not up to mum/dad how the money is split without a Will.
Debts will die with me. We won’t be able to pay out your requests until your debts are settled. If there is not enough money in the estate to settle your debts, then the creditors will take everything they can of monetary value and only then will the debt be written off.
All contracts come to an end. If you have agreed a contract – say for example you have begun the process of buying a house – then your executor may be forced to follow that deal through even after your death.

Remember: Death is one of life’s few certainties, so getting your planning in place is essential. A will can always be changed if your circumstances change.

Thank you: A big thank you to those who contributed to this article;  All are top solicitors in the UK who are all part of the Solicitors of the Elderly. SFE members have experience and specialise in a wide range of legal issues affecting older and vulnerable people.
Jamie has worked in the care industry for more the 7 years and has also personally gone through the experience of organising care. Jamie shares his thoughts with others to help them organise their own care.
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