Making a will? Leaving a legacy? Isn't that kind of morbid? You're not likely to be alone in asking that question, but honestly, thinking about these things 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. You might think there isn't any point in it, especially if you don't have children or any assets of great worth, but it’s so worthwhile – here are our top five reasons why.
- Without a will, your estate won't 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 designates guardians of your children, the court may 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. That's a pretty horrible thought, isn't it? 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 little or 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 gets to make these important financial decisions too. You wouldn’t want a stranger taking the contents of your bag and sharing them out as they please, so why let this happen to your estate? In your will you’ll be able to name your ‘executor’, which is actually a good thing despite it sounding a bit intimidating! Your executor (which can be one or more people) will be responsible for ensuring your will is stuck 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 actually save you and your loved ones 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 level. 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 a society that's constantly chopping and changing. 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.
CAP helps more than 20,000 people across its services every year, with 91% saying it was 'life transforming' or 'a great help'. Would you consider leaving us a legacy in your will? Click here to find out more.