Posted by Rachel Bashford
This guide will give you information on: • Reasons why a will is important • How to write a will • Why you might need a trust or estate planning
For many people, going through the process of making a will seems like a great idea, but one that can be put off for another year. In truth, making a will and planning for the future is really straightforward for the majority of older people and can be done reasonably quickly with the right support and expert help.
There is no UK legal requirement to make a will. However, if you want to have control over what happens to you, your finances and assets, then securing your will makes your wishes clear to follow and carry out.
Our trusted and experienced legal partners, Parfitt Cresswell, have the expert ability to guide older people and their families through the legal language to make sure your wishes for the future are protected and safe with the correct legal documents.
People may have a few worries and concerns about how to pay for retirement or possible care options. This video from Age UK delves into the reasons behind why having a will is vital in ensuring that you take control over your future and that of your loved ones.
You may think, ‘Why do I need to think about all that now?’ There is probably never going to be a perfect time to make a will, but spending a little time with the correct support will ensure that your desires and wishes are listened to and followed in years to come.
According to Parfitt Cresswell, around 52% of the UK population don’t have a will. If you don’t have one, then your wishes may not be honoured. A recent data analysis by The Gazette official public record has shown that the average age for someone making a will in the last decade is 58.
This reveals that, as people are getting older, they really want to make sure their voice is heard and that their decisions are acted upon. Completing your will puts your wishes into concrete, permanent form - meaning that they won’t change unless you want them to.
Everyone likes to think they will carry on independently forever. This may very well happen; but whatever the future holds, you will need financial security to live exactly as you choose.
Making a will helps you sort out your finances in a clear way, so that you know precisely what you can afford to do, and what you can choose to spend money on.
Now, you may be thinking, what is my estate? Well, your estate is everything you own – any savings, money property, assets, possessions and investments. There may be more to consider than you think!
This video from Autumna shows you the types of concerns people may have about later life and about practical future planning.
The following convincing reasons are all important benefits of will-making:
The UK government advises that you can make your will yourself, but if your estate and wishes are not really obvious or straightforward, then getting expert help is best. They also advise about the rules regarding inheritance tax, if you need to know more about this system.
Watch this video from the Law Society which gives some good advice about making a will.
Follow these easy, simple steps to make a clear and complete will that suits all your needs:
Draw up a list of all your assets and your complete estate, including all property, possessions, pensions, investments, shares, insurance policies and any vehicles.
Get your assets valued regularly so that you know their true worth for your will.
Decide who you want to leave something to and what exactly you want to give them. Being clear with this in print means that there should be little confusion later on.
Remember to consider friends, family, pets and any causes you want to support. There are plenty of animal charities that can show you how to plan for your pet. The RSPCA enables you to register your pet with their Home for Life scheme. Other charities also have this option available.
Choose your executor. An executor is responsible for dealing properly with your assets after you die and making sure your wishes are followed. Choosing someone you trust will give you confidence that what is written in your will is followed to the letter.
This person can be a trusted family member or friend, but could also be a professional, such as a solicitor. The Law Society can help you find an appropriate professional if you need support.
If you want to know more about the role of an executor, please consult this Parfitt Cresswell article about their duties.
Sign your will. If it’s not signed properly, then your will is not valid. You must sign your will in front of two independent witnesses, who will then sign your will in front of you.
The government introduced virtual signing of wills during the pandemic, which according to the BBC is set to continue into 2022.
Store your will safely with a solicitor, bank or building society. Of course, you can have a copy at home, too.
Your will is not set in stone. You can change it at any time. Reviewing it every 5 years will allow you to make any changes that you think are necessary with the passing of time. Experts, such as Parfitt Cresswell, can help with any amendments.
You may need more in place than just your will. This will depend on what types of savings, pension plans, insurance policies, properties and investments you may have. Exploring helpful options with experienced professionals who give you effective and clear advice is always a good idea to simplify the process.
A will trust, or testamentary trust, is part of your will and allows you to protect property for your loved ones. You can create the conditions for the will trust in your will and it will be activated once you pass away.
This can become important when assessing someone’s assets for care costs. Only that person’s part of the property can count towards their care; the portion held in a will trust won’t be touched, protecting it for your loved ones and from being involved in care costs.
If you have a will trust and your partner dies, then you have the right to continue to live in your home.
Trusts have differing rules relating to inheritance tax, for example bare trusts. Find out more about these regulations from Gov.uk.
Bare trusts are when the assets of a trust are held in the name of a trustee but go directly to the beneficiary. Some transfers into a bare trust may be exempt from inheritance tax.
This image gives you a quick insight into how tax and trusts might work from which.co.uk.
Estate planning is a wider concept that enables you to think about and plan for property arrangements and other issues, such as future tax implications. Your will and any trusts you have in place can be at the heart of estate planning.
In truth, estate planning allows you to prepare your finances and protect your assets for your loved ones in the future. It may also aid you in reducing the amount of inheritance tax that might have to be paid on your assets.
Age UK have produced this useful leaflet explaining all the benefits of estate planning so that you can access objective information to help you make an informed decision, should you need more than a will to manage your finances.
Speak to an experienced solicitor or someone you trust to help if you want to find out more about estate planning. Sorting out your finances and organising your wishes are a vital part in securing a protected future for you and your loved ones.
Parfitt Cresswell have produced a series of articles about wills, trusts and preparing for the future to support you so that you feel reassured with a proper financial safety net in place.
Contact Autumna For Support
If you are concerned about how you will organise your future, then Autumna has a team of expert professionals who are trained to help you and your loved ones find the right care solutions.
Autumna can connect you with a range of professional and care services to make sure you can get the right support at the right time to suit your individual needs.
Remember, you’re more than welcome to get in touch with the Autumna team if you’re looking for support yourself or for an elderly family member.
You can contact us by either phone or email. The details are below:
Phone: 01892 335 330
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