Duncan Lewis

Family Law

know matters can be both

highly sensitive and confusing

Why is a will necessary?

Date: (24 February 2012)    |    

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Duncan Lewis:Although not many people like to dwell unduly on the subject of death and the hereafter, it is crucially important in the workaday world that we make provision regarding the distribution of our assets and the care of our loved ones before we die, so that our possessions are distributed in accordance with our wishes.

It is a common misconception that making a will is only necessary for the very wealthy, but such is not the case at all. If you have not written a will, then you are said to have died ‘intestate’ and there will be special provision in the law regarding how your assets, no matter how humble they may be, will be distributed. This may not be in accordance with how you would have wished things to be. Unless you specifically mention it in your will, for example, a partner you have co-habited with for many years will not be entitled to any of your assets on your death. If you have no children, even your lawful spouse will not be entitled to inherit the whole of your estate, with siblings and parents often being entitled to a part of it.

An estate of any size can become much more complex to sort out after your death, if you have remarried, been divorced or had children. In addition, if you have not appointed an executor to administer the estate, which is a part of the function of a will, then this responsibility may very well fall upon a potential beneficiary and one that you would have considered quite unsuitable for the task.

Inheritance tax laws are another important consideration, as the impact of these can to some extent be minimised in the process of going through who will inherit what. Family law solicitors such as Duncan Lewis will be able to go through this and all the other aspects of making a will.

You must be over the age of 18, of sound mind, and have written the will of your own accord without any pressure being applied by a third party. Two witnesses will have to be present to sign the will once it has been drawn up, with spouses and beneficiaries not allowed as witnesses. If one of these is a witness, the will is still valid but their inheritance will be invalidated. Once the will has been written and signed, it can be stored anywhere, although in practice many people choose to deposit it with their solicitor or in the High Court’s Family Division Registry.

Although not technically necessary, a solicitor should be used when setting up a will, especially if the estate is large and complex, as it is easy in this for a mistake to creep in or some seemingly trivial point be overlooked that will have unexpected ramifications on the inheritance arrangements.

 

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