Why It is Important to Make a Will
Why It is Important to Make a Will
We can all agree that no one likes to consider what happens after our death and taking the time to plan what will happen to your assets can seem likely a complicated and lengthy task. It’s no surprise that a significant number of people in the UK do not have a will in place.
Yet a valid will is one of the most important financial documents you can create during your lifetime. A valid will can help save your loved ones and family a great deal of heartache and hassle when you die.
Failing to leave behind a will when you die, will leave you intestate. This can put a lot of undue strain and stress on the people in your life. Managing your assets is generally a difficult business at the best of times, however, dying whilst intestate can lead to extremely costly and unpleasant legal proceedings for family and other beneficiaries. In some cases, it can take years to sort out the different assets from estates.
What Happens if You Don’t Have a Will?
Without a valid will in place, all of your assets like your bank accounts, savings, your house, investments, and even your personal possessions like your car or jewellery, can be distributed under intestacy rules rather than following your desired wishes.
What is Intestacy?
Intestacy rules will apply if you die without a valid will in place. These rules will pass on your assets, dividing your estate up in a specific order. It’s important for you to understand that it is not a foregone conclusion that your loved ones will receive what you would like them to have.
Making a Will
It is important for you to make a will, even if you feel you do not have many possessions or assets. Making a valid will is extremely important because:
- If you die without a valid will in place, there are strict rules which dictate how your assets will be divided up and allocated. This may not be the way you wish your possessions or money to be distributed.
- Partners who are unmarried or who have not registered a civil partnership are unable to inherit from each other unless there is a valid will in place. If one partner dies, this can result in serious financial problems for the remaining partner without a will.
- If you have children, you need to ensure that a will in in place so that arrangements for the children can be made in the event either one of both parents die.
- You could potentially reduce the amount of tax payable on inheritance if advice is taken in advance
- It is also important that your will reflects any changes in your circumstances. For example, if you have recently separated from your partner, you may want to change your will. Plus, if you are married or have entered into a civil partnership, this will make any previous will you have made invalid.
You have the option of creating your own will, as long as you get it witnessed and the document includes all of the formal requirements. If you do not have many assets and your financial circumstances are fairly simple, you can consider using a will-writing kit or an online service. However, for a full will that will help avoid any pesky tax and trauma, it’s best to talk to a solicitor. Make sure to use a firm that is regulated by the Law Society, as this can help ensure that your will is valid.
Contesting a Will
A will contest is a type of lawsuit that is used to invalidate the will of a deceased person. If you are currently looking into contesting a will because you don’t believe a friend or family member’s will is valid or does not properly reflect their wishes, then beware. Contesting a will can often be emotionally draining, as well as costly in both time and money.
If you still think you would like to contest a will despite the costs involved, it’s often a good idea to contact a solicitor who is an expert in contesting wills. Using firms like The Inheritance Experts who have UK wide specialists on hand can greatly help to increase the likelihood of your claim being successful. This particular firm are also recommended as they work on a no win no fee basis and provide you with a free initial quote, so if you’re claim isn’t successful, you won’t be out of pocket.
Who Can Contest a Will?
Regardless of whether you are an executor, it is important that you are aware of who does and does not have the right to contest a will. The Inheritance Act sets out who is able to contest a will, but the main people who have the ability include:
- Blood relations
- A creditor that is owed money from the estate
- A spouse, regardless of whether they were living together or estranged at the time the will was created
- A beneficiary named in an earlier will
- A person who was reliant on the deceased for either accommodation or financial support
- Someone who was promised an item, which is not detailed in the will
People typically contest a will if they feel they have been unfairly treated or if the deceased was exploited or tricked into leaving their assets to someone by mistake.
Are You Entitled to Contest a Will?
Anyone can choose to contest the validity of a will, but only those considered family will be able to claim that you they were not adequately provided for in the document. The main reasons for contest a will include:
- Undue influence
- Fraudulent and forged wills
- Lack of valid execution
To prove that someone was under duress, unduly influenced, or coerced when making a will, you are required to show proof of ‘actual undue influence’. The evidence you need to prove undue influence has to be of a high standard. That is why it is often helpful to seek the advice of dispute solicitors who have a proven track record in this area.
Fraudulent and Forged Wills
This is probably one of the most obvious reasons when it comes to contesting a will. You can choose to contest a will if you think it was forged or you feel fraud has taken place. Just remember, for this reason, it can be very difficult to prove that fraudulent activity has taken place, so this may require a lot of your time and money to prove.
Lack of Valid Execution
Any valid will must meet the requirements established in section 9 of the Wills Act 1837. This states that a valid will has to be completed in writing and must be signed by the testator in the presence of at least two witnesses. These witnesses must be present at the same time.
Is There a Time Limit for Contesting a Will?
There is usually a time limit regarding how long you can contest a will. The criteria for the amount of time you have is outlined in the Limitation Act 1980. If you are considering claiming under the Inheritance Act, then you only have six months from probate being granted to pursue your claim. If you are a beneficiary and believe you are entitled to a larger share of the assets, then you generally have up to 12 years to challenge the will. This can vary depending on each case, so it’s often useful to consult a solicitor.