Why do I need a will?

Many people know they need a will but never get around to writing one, leaving a mess for their families to sort out.

The reasons for this are understandable. It seems like a complex subject, and most of us go to great lengths to avoid pondering our own mortality. Wills, being legal documents, tend to be associated with solicitors so you might think they’re expensive. So people put it off for another day… a day that never comes.

That’s where I can help. I offer home visits to discuss your circumstances in the comfort of your own home. I also offer evening appointments, which are especially convenient for working couples. And I’m cheaper than a typical high street solicitor, with fixed prices. The first meeting is free and there’s no obligation to proceed.

While basic wills suit many people, everyone’s circumstances are different. To cover all situations I also provide trusts, lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) and funeral plans. Here are the benefits of each.

What’s the benefit of getting a will?

A will enables you to decide who benefits from your estate. If you don’t have a will, this is instead determined by the “rules of intestacy”. The law doesn’t recognise unmarried couples, no matter how long they’ve been cohabiting, or stepchildren. And although married couples and civil partners will inherit if they don’t have a will, the rules of intestacy are strict on how much they get.

The first £250,000 of an estate goes to the spouse/civil partner and any excess is split in two, with half going to the spouse/civil partner and half divided equally between children. In addition, the family of anyone who dies without a will may find that probate is long-winded and potentially very expensive.

Another important reason to get a will is if you have children under the age of 18. That’s because it’s the only way to assign guardianship of children should both parents die unexpectedly. Otherwise, a court would decide.

Why do I need a lasting power of attorney (LPA)?

Unlike wills, documents called lasting powers of attorney (LPA) are used while you’re still alive. If you lose mental capacity, they allow a trusted individual – known as an attorney – to make financial or health-related decisions on your behalf.

There are two types of LPA: one for property and finance and the other for health and welfare.

> A property and finance LPA enables an attorney – who can be a family member, friend or professional – to pay essential bills using your money, collect your pension, or sell your home.

> With a health and welfare LPA, an attorney can decide where you live, for example in a care home, and whether you should receive life-sustaining treatment.

Since an LPA can only be registered while someone still has mental capacity, it’s important to get LPAs in place as soon as possible.

Why do I need a funeral plan?

A funeral plan is simply a way of paying for your funeral today, rather than the cost being taken out of your estate later on.

They can be paid for in full or in instalments. Funeral plans are a good idea because the cost has increased substantially in recent years, from around £1,700 on average in 2005 to around £4,000 today. Ten years from now, funerals may cost £10,000 or more.

Funeral plans avoid future price increases, allowing you to lock in to today’s prices. If you have the spare cash, it’s the best possible present you could give to your children. Not only are they likely to inherit more than they would otherwise, they won’t have to pay for your funeral out of their own savings while they wait for your estate to be administered. Plus, it saves them having to buy and organise your funeral at what’s sure to be a stressful time.

Why do I need a trust?

Trusts may seem complicated but the idea behind them is simple. When assets are in trust, they are no longer owned by an individual. This means that assets in a trust, such as a house, are protected. If it was simply gifted in your will, it wouldn’t be. If one of your children got divorced, for example, half of their inheritance would be lost to their ex. If a child went bankrupt, all of their inheritance could go to creditors.

Trusts are also worthwhile if you don’t like the idea of substantial sums going to adult children while they are relatively young, or if your relationship has been difficult. With a trust, the assets are managed by trustees – people you appoint. You can even be a trustee yourself! With these safeguards in place, gifts can be given to beneficiaries with “strings attached” – something that’s not possible with a simple will.

In summary, it’s never too early to talk to a will writer but it can be too late. Call me today on 0117 440 1230 and book an appointment, or click the link below to find out more.