Talking about making wills and leaving legacies may seem a little too morbid for this time of day, but in fact it has its perks – not to mention it’s really important. Not only can we find peace of mind in knowing our affairs are in order way ahead of schedule, but we can be sure that our loved ones and the things we care about are secure after we’re gone. Many of us don’t think there’s any point in it, particularly when we don’t have children or any assets of great worth, but it’s important nonetheless – here are five good reasons why.
- Without a will, your estate does not necessarily go to your partner. Everything you own is classed as an asset, from a house to a rug to the family pet, and these make up your ‘estate’. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee your estate will automatically go to your partner, even if you’re married or in a civil partnership, if they aren’t specifically named on your will. Without a will, you run the risk of your estate being shared out in any which way, or indeed going to the government. According to the Money Advice Service, the total value that went to the government last year from people not leaving a will was £8 million.
- Unless your will appoints guardians of your children, the court will decide who takes care of them. Not only could your estate hang in the balance if you don’t leave a will, but custody of your kids too. What’s more, the amount of your estate that your children are entitled to will vary depending on where you live in the UK, meaning they could feasibly end up with nothing. Making these important decisions today may seem difficult, but it could remove unnecessary stress for your family after you’re gone.
- A will is not just about who gets what, it says who makes your important financial decisions. You wouldn’t want a stranger taking the contents of your bag and sharing them out as they please, so you shouldn’t allow this to happen to your estate. In your will you’ll be able to name your ‘executor’, which is actually a good thing despite it sounding somewhat intimidating. Your executor (which can be one or more people) will be responsible for ensuring your will is adhered to, so you can rest in the knowledge that your affairs will be left in trusted hands.
- You can reduce your Inheritance Tax Bill by leaving a charitable legacy in your will. Yes, on top of everything else, leaving a will could also save you and your successors money. If you leave 10% or more of your estate to charity, the government will reduce the rate of inheritance tax on your estate by 10%. Currently, if the value of your estate is worth more than £325,000, you will be taxed 40% on anything above that threshold. However, the government will reduce the tax rate to 36% for anyone pledging to give 10% or more of their estate’s value to charity.
- It’s easy to review your will if and when your circumstances change. Some people worry that making a will means these decisions are set in stone, which is understandable in our transitory society. However, you can (and should) review your will from time to time to ensure your wishes are still current and there’s no cause for dispute when the time comes.
St Peter’s Parish, with the support of Belper Community Church and Belper Baptist Church, will be holding CAP Life Skills courses from January to anyone on a low income.
More information is available here.
By Adriaan Van Wyk