Most people are familiar with the concept of a will - a legal declaration of what you want to happen to your property and possessions on your death. However, you may be surprised by the following ten facts about wills and your estate:
- Without a will, your spouse will not automatically inherit all your assets - they will be distributed according to the Intestacy Rules.
- Without a will, the person who is your partner, or what you may call your common-law spouse, will not automatically inherit.
- If you have an existing will and you marry or divorce, you will need to revise it or your estate may pass to unwanted beneficiaries.
- You can protect your estate against the impact of Care Home fees by having an appropriately drafted will.
- Most assets held in joint names will pass to the surviving owner and will not be distributed by your will.
- If you have step-children, they will not automatically inherit anything from your estate.
- If you wish to leave assets to a child, they will automatically inherit at age 18 unless you stipulate a higher age in your will.
- After a second marriage, you can make provision for your new spouse but ensure your assets will still pass to children from your first marriage.
- If you have no blood relatives to survive you, your estate may even pass to the government after your death. If you make a will you can avoid this and name friends or charities as beneficiaries.
- If you are married or in a civil partnership, everything that passes to your spouse or civil partner is tax-free. However, anything passing to anyone else (with the exception of charitable beneficiaries is potentially taxable for inheritance tax).
Whilst you don’t need a solicitor to make a will, there are legal formalities that need to be followed to make sure that your will is valid. For more information, or for an initial chat regarding your will and estate, please get in touch with Gill Coombs. Gill is a senior associate in the Private Client team at Lodders in Henley in Arden and a specialist in estate administration, wills, probate and lasting powers of attorney.