Financial & Legal News

The importance of making a Will

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Not making a will can create problems and inhertiance disputes for the family and employees you leave behind.

We’re fast approaching Christmas and the New Year and, when we review 2016 in terms of celebrity losses, it's been a miserable year. Those who have passed away this year include David Bowie, Carrie Fisher, Alan Rickman, Harper Lee, Prince, Natalie Cole, Gene Wilder, Terry Wogan, Victoria Wood, Ronnie Corbett, Leonard Cohen … and the list, unfortunately, goes on.

Their passing is sad enough but the deaths of some of them created further surprising news when it became clear that they had died “intestate”. In other words, some of them had not made a will. Prince is one example. His lack of a will was all the more surprising given the amount of care he took over his contracts and protecting his image. His intestacy left a mess for his family to sort out and possibly years of expensive disputes while they try to sort out and administer his affairs (a process called “Probate”).

What happens if you die without having made a will?

Making a Will is not just for celebrities and the wealthy with large estates: everybody should make a will. The process itself forces you to consider your affairs and how you would like them and your estate to be administered after you die. You can also choose who you would like to do the administering and appoint an executor to carry out the process of probate - or you could instruct your professional advisor to act as executor.

Without a will, the following are just some of the consequences of dying intestate:

  • Your money and property might not go to the people you intended it to go to. This is because the complicated laws of intestacy will come into play. These laws could for example, mean that your estate will not go to those you would like. For example, if your spouse and children survive you, your estate goes to them (even if you are separated from your husband/wife). Also, depending on the size of the estate, the legal division of the estate could favour the children over the spouse – and the children might inherit their share at 18.
  • Your business interests might be affected – particularly if you are a sole trader or small business/SME. If it is not clear how your business interests will be run after your death, what will happen to the business and your employees?
  • Inheritance tax (IHT) will be payable. There will have been no chance to do any pre-death IHT planning to minimise the IHT liability.
  • The absence of your instructions about what will happen after your death, could cause arguments between your friends and family. Just at the difficult time when they are grieving their loss, they will have to deal with difficult issues about how to sort out your estate.


Making a will – it’s not hard and brings much comfort

Making a will gives much comfort to your relatives. It helps you to do some tax planning, sets out exactly what you want to happen with your estate after you die and prevents or cut down dramatically the risk of arguments between those you leave behind.

Making a will need not be forever. If you change your mind, it is easy to amend the terms of the will or revoke it.

Wills should also be reviewed regularly and, at the very least, after big life changes. So, if you marry or remarry or have children, it is advisable to update the provisions of your will.

It also does not cost as much as you might think – and the cost is in any case, much cheaper than the costs your relatives might incur if they end up arguing about your wishes.

To find out more, contact Daniel Prince or make an enquiry.

Disputing a will

There are a number of reasons why relatives and sometimes friends might dispute a deceased’s will or estate:

  • Relatives might have believed the deceased to have died intestate (i.e. without leaving a will) but a will is found unexpectedly.
  • A later, differently worded, Will is found.
  • Relatives believe the deceased did not have the required mental capacity to make the Will at the time it was made – or that the deceased was under undue influence about who should benefit.
  • The deceased made a Will for the first time, but did not tell their relatives.
  • A relative was dependent on the deceased but was not provided for in the Will.
  • The deceased told a relative or friend that they would leave them a gift (or bequest) in their Will – but the will does not reflect that promise.
  • The deceased changed their mind about who should inherit their estate later on in life.

Any one of these scenarios can lead to the will being challenged and if a dispute does arise, the legal costs can mount up rapidly.


How can we help?

If you are not happy with an inheritance (or lack of an inheritance) or are concerned about how a deceased’s estate is being handled, we can advise you on whether you have a claim.


To discuss your concerns, contact Christopher Burke on 0161 684 6941 or make an enquiry.

Frequently Asked Questions

Posted 13 December 2016

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

Written by Christopher Burke


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