Writing a Will isn't just about who gets what

By Lenore Rice

It is regularly estimated that approximately 70 per cent of adults do not have a Will, and recent research suggests that nearly a third of adults still fail to address the issue by time they reach 55. Many consider that there estate will naturally pass on to the obvious people, but those presumptions are often incorrect, and there is more to writing a Will than merely prescribing who gets what.

Modern families are becoming increasingly more complex, with more second marriages, and children to different spouses or partners. An increasing number of people are separated from their spouse but not legally divorced, and recent research commissioned by Safestore suggests that 21 per cent of people are unaware that the most, if not all, of the estate would pass to their spouse if they were separated but not divorced. Similarly, 34 per cent of those surveyed were unaware that a cohabiting partner was not automatically entitled to anything from the estate, regardless of the length of the relationship and time spent living together.

Aside from making sure the estate passed on to your intended beneficiaries, there are other reasons for making a Will. You can use it to choose the people that will manage your affairs, rather than leaving your family to decide amongst themselves who should make the appropriate enquiries. If you have younger children you can also appoint Guardians to take care of them in the event that something happens to both parents. Young children will not be able to access your estate straight away so you will again want to make arrangements in this regard, establishing trusts and again deciding who should manage your wealth until your children are old enough to receive it.

Two of the biggest incentives for writing a Will are to avoid unnecessary delay in the administration of your estate, and making sure that your family does not have to pay more inheritance tax than is absolutely necessary. Writing a Will often goes hand-in-hand with overall tax and estate planning, which can help reduce the inheritance tax payable on your estate. The research revealed that 60 per cent of those surveyed weren't aware that they could reduce the inheritance bill payable on their estate by making a Will outlining careful tax planning.

If you require legal advice in respect of writing a Will, or updating an existing Will, contact Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast or Bangor by clicking here.