A Will is arguably one of the most important things to have in place for your family and loved ones. But why is it so important?
There are a number of reasons that you should consider making a Will. Some of these reasons (but by all means not all) are detailed below:
- By entering into a Will your wishes are made clear for how you would like your assets to be distributed following your death;
- If you die without leaving a Will you die intestate and your estate must be shared out according to certain rules defined by law. They are called the intestacy rules. These can be arbitrary and fundamentally your estate may not go to the people you would like;
- It is usually much easier to administer an estate where the deceased left a valid Will as it is clear what shares of the estate are to be left to who, avoiding the use of the intestacy rules;
- If you have individuals who are financially dependent on you, you can ensure that they are provided for following your death
- If you are not married to your partner, or have not registered a civil partnership, your partner cannot inherit from your estate unless they are provided for in a Will;
- If you have young children you are able to appoint a Guardian in your Will to care for your children until they reach the age of 18;
- Making a Will is a good opportunity to review your assets and potential inheritance tax liability. You are then able to plan for the future;
- As an owner of a business you can appoint an individual in your Will to manage your business following your death as family members may not be suited to this role; and
- Importantly, having a Will provides you with peace of mind that you have made your wishes clear and have provided for those that you want to provide for.
It is important to regularly review your Will to make sure that your wishes are up to date but also to consider any changes in the law or tax system which may have an impact. We recommend that clients review their Wills every 3 to 5 years or after any life changing event such as divorce, remarriage or death. This may seem burdensome and costly but it can avoid problems later on down the line.
On What Grounds can my Will be Challenged?
Making a Will is an important step for you to ensure that your assets are distributed as far as possible in accordance with your wishes when you die. One of the concerns that you may have is whether somebody in the future may have the ability to challenge the Will.
There has been a sharp rise in challenges to Wills in recent years. Once possible reason for this is that we are seeing a change in the family structure. Today, blended families are more common than ever. Many people have second or third families during their lifetimes and problems can arise when there is animosity between those family members. Another possible reason is the challenging economic situation that we find ourselves in. However, just because you may be in difficult financial circumstances, this may not in itself be a reason to justify a challenge.
Broadly speaking there are two possible bases upon which a Will can be challenged. Either the Will is invalid in some way and/or the Will does not provide reasonable financial provision.
In terms of validity, Wills are most commonly challenged on the following grounds:
- The Will does not comply with certain formalities as set out in law. There has been an increase in this area with the growth of "DIY Wills";
- The person making the Will was coerced or unduly influenced into making a Will they did not want to make;
- The person making the Will did not know and approve the contents of the Will.
Even if the Will is valid, certain family members and dependants can make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 if they have not been sufficiently provided for from the deceased's estate.
It is extremely important that you receive legal advice when making a Will so that that you can discuss any potential claims that may be made after you have passed away. It's not all doom and gloom as there are steps that can be taken when making a Will to minimise the risk of the above claims being made against your estate which a solicitor can advise you on.
At Clapham & Collinge we have a dedicated team of experts who are able to provide you with all of the necessary information, support and legal advice on will disputes and how they can be resolved. For more information on our Will services, please visit our dedicated 'Making a Will' webpage.
For more information on the legal services we offer or to book your appointment please contact our Client Relations Team today on 01603 693500 or email us using the 'Make an enquiry' form. Appointments available at our Norwich, North Walsham, and Sheringham offices.
*This article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or other professional advice.