Making a will | Why it’s vital to write or update your will

Making a will can comfort you and your family, knowing that your wishes will be understood and fulfilled.

With a busy life, you may still need to get around to it, or you’ve deliberately put it off. Don’t leave your loved ones with uncertainty at a time which is stressful enough for them.

Why write a will?

Many assume that all their property and money will automatically pass to their spouse or partner; however, if you don’t make a will, the law deems you to have ‘died intestate’, which may not be the case.

Intestacy can be upsetting for your loved ones, who may suffer stress and even financial hardship at a time when they least need it.

If you make a will before you die, then the legal process in dealing with your affairs will be more straightforward and likely less expensive for your loved ones to cope with at a time when they will need as little extra stress as possible.

What happens if you Don’t write a will?

If you die intestate because you have not left a valid will, you and your family will have no control over who will inherit what you own.

No control over beneficiaries

Intestacy inheritance depends on which of your relatives is alive at your death and the value of your estate. The people who you would have wished as your beneficiaries may receive only some, and charities, friends and unmarried partners will receive nothing.

No control over who looks after your children when you’re gone

You will have no control over who looks after your children should anything happen to you if you have not named guardians in your will. In such circumstances, the courts will appoint a guardian on your behalf – someone you may not have chosen.

Your estate may have to pay more fees and Inheritance Tax than really necessary

Your family may have to use professionals to decide how the estate should be distributed. Their charges could mount up considerably, leaving less for your family.
You may be surprised at the value of your estate, especially with house prices rising beyond Inheritance Tax thresholds. This higher value may result in unforeseen Inheritance Tax bills if you still need to take steps to mitigate this.

What happens if you Do write a will?

Making a will is not as onerous as you think. It is never too early, but all too often left too late.

Name beneficiaries

You can name the beneficiaries (including charities and friends if you so wish), and you will know with certainty who will inherit from you.

Appoint guardians

You can appoint guardians for your children who will look after them until they reach the age of eighteen.

Consider Inheritance Tax

You can distribute your assets so that Inheritance Tax is mitigated.

Reduce stress for your family

Your family will have clear directions on how to deal with your affairs.

Why update your will?

If you have prepared your will, you’ve already taken care of one of the most critical decisions for you and your family.

But how long ago did you prepare it, and have there been any changes to your circumstances, finances, or relationships since then?

If you wrote your will more than five years ago, there might be good reasons to update it.

Changes to family circumstances

Changes to your family can happen over time. You may have married, remarried, divorced, had children or grandchildren, or your spouse may have passed away.

Remember, any family members you’ve specified as a beneficiary in your will may also have passed away, as well as anyone you’ve chosen as an Executor, Trustee, or Guardian. You may need to adjust your will.

Changes to your property or possessions

The asset of the greatest value is often your home and any other property you own. Have you sold your house or bought any new property since you made your will?

Have you acquired or disposed of any valuable jewellery, antiques, artwork, or other possessions?

Pay attention to these changes and update your will.

Changes to legislation

Government legislation may have changed or been amended if it’s been some time since you made your will. In this case, your will might not reflect the latest rules, for example, inheritance tax which may affect potential tax liabilities.

Additional protection

As life can be unpredictable, updating your will and reviewing it to give more protection for your family should always be considered.

For example, would your spouse remarry? Remarriage could cause problems for your family, and the new spouse and their children could benefit before your own.

Or your surviving spouse may need to go into care. Care home fees are considerable, and checking that your will considers this may prove critical to your family at the proper time.

Lessen the risk of challenge

There are, sadly, many scenarios where the challenge of a will can come into effect. You may not have an £8 million Ming vase collection to fight over, but siblings can still fall out.

If your spouse remarries, your children may miss out on an inheritance, leading to a challenge against your estate and your wishes.

And if you decide not to leave anything to certain family members or dependents, it opens up the potential for a future claim.

Speak to a professional

We always recommend you speak to a qualified professional when making or amending your will.

Leave a gift in your will

When you leave a gift in your will to the Friends of Teddington Memorial Hospital, you help ensure the long-term future of our highly valued community hospital: Teddington Memorial.
Gifts in Wills are vital to our projects, so any donation you give, whatever size you choose to leave us after caring for your family and friends, will make a big difference to patients, families, and staff.

Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any queries about this article or are considering leaving a legacy to The Friends of Teddington Memorial Hospital.