Andrew Steel joined Jacksons last month as an associate solicitor in our Wills and probate team, working out of both Stockton and Newcastle. In this week’s blog, he tells us why we should think about wills before we are old and grey.
Many people think that making Wills is a job for when you are older, something that you get around to eventually. There is also the commonly heard “well I haven’t got anything anyway so why bother” whilst sat in their property which often, at the very least, will have a chunk of equity despite that being greatly outweighed by any mortgage on the property.
It may be that in order to buy your property however, that you have had the support of “the bank of Mum and Dad”. A well-made Will can ensure that they are paid back from your estate the amount that you may have borrowed from them – of course in such circumstances we would always recommend other legal structures to protect this investment however, we know in the real world that this is unlikely to happen.
One of the biggest urban myths when it comes to Wills is the concept of the “common law spouse”. Unfortunately, when it comes to a person’s estate there is no such thing. The laws of Intestacy deal with the distribution of a person’s estate if they do not have a Will. These laws state that if you are in a relationship, but are not married, nor in a Civil Partnership your partner would have no rights were you to die. The only way of obtaining savings or assets lodged in that person’s name – unless there was some sort of agreement – would be via costly court proceedings.
Another reason for younger people making Wills is to ensure that their children are properly looked after. It is vitally important in this respect that parents make Wills appointing what are known as Testamentary Guardians, who will be appointed to look after your children upon your death. The last thing that your young children need is anyone to be fighting about where they are to live.
Sticking with the subject of children, it may be that as a couple you have children from previous relationships. It is vitally important in this respect to make Wills as a lack of a will could lead, inadvertently to all of the couple’s wealth passing down only one of the family lines. This is due to the laws of Intestacy making no provision for step children. You can make a relatively simple Will to deal with this. If you do not, it is becoming more and more common for such disputes ending up in the courts and people would usually rather their family have their money rather than lawyers!
Often in your youth you have fantastic ideas and ambitions to better your life and you may embark upon setting up a business. Aside from the great advice Jacksons can give surrounding the legal set up of your businesses, having a Will in place is absolutely crucial to making sure that the business can thrive and survive for the good of your loved ones and the business itself. Making sure you make provision for dealing with the business in your Will ensures that the business can be taken care of for you.
If you are lucky enough that either the business mentioned above is booming or you have your own personal wealth, again it is vital that you take Inheritance Tax advice in, and amongst, planning your Will to make sure that more of your estate ends up in the hands of those you care about rather than in the hands of the tax man.
Finally, although we have been speaking wholly about Wills here, many of the above are also reasons to seek out advice upon Powers of Attorney so that if something untoward were to happen in your lifetime you could be supported so that your financial affairs – and welfare issues – can continue to be handled on your behalf.
If you would like to speak to Andrew on issues relating to this article, please email email@example.com or call 01642 356 500.