It’s been well noted in the media that some celebrities,
such as Barry White, have died without leaving a will, causing
a flurry of legal battles between friends and family members.
Peter Mason, at Stourbridge based Chartered Accountants
explains the importance of making a will, and the implications
that can be caused by not having one at all.
According to history books a passenger
onboard the Titanic was quoted saying, “I swear that, as
soon as we get into port, I'll see about getting that will made”.
Although many of us don’t like to think about dying, it
will eventually come to us all, which is why it’s best to
make sure that our financial affairs are dealt with properly when
the time comes.
Writing a will is not as complicated
as some may think, you can even buy papers from the Internet!
It really is a case of simply stating to whom you wish to leave
your estate(s), monies, personal possessions and so on. The will
must be signed in front of an independent witness and kept in
a safe place, but be sure to tell those close to you where it
is, as in some instances wills have been written and lost, which
is of no help at all.
Real problems occur if no will is
written at all, as the Government can end up with all your assets
if you have no close relatives, and even if you do your wishes
may not be accounted for. If you are married with children when
you die your spouse gets everything up to £125,000, along
with your personal possessions. The remainder is split in half,
with 50% going to your children and the balance going into a trust
for the rest of your spouse’s life, when your spouse dies
this half reverts back to your children.
If you have no children, but are
married, your spouse will receive everything up to £200,000
along with personal possessions, and the rest is split between
your parents, however if they have already passed, it will be
passed onto your siblings.
Nowadays, however, many people simply
co-habit with their partners, and see no reason to get married.
If you are in this position it really is best to ensure a will
is written, because the consequences can be devastating for the
partner left behind. If you are unmarried, a shared home may have
to be sold if it is not in joint names, and the proceeds, along
with the rest of the estate, will go to the next of kin. To stop
this happening your partner will have to resort to the courts
to recover their fair share.
Dying without a will can cause a
great deal of additional stress for everyone involved. If you
are unsure about how to write a will or the legal implications
that can occur when one doesn’t exist, speak to a specialist.