Creating a will is an essential part of life. What are the benefits of having one, and what happens if you don’t?

Making a will is one of life’s most imperative – yet easily overlooked – pieces of admin. When you die, your will is the document responsible for the distribution of your assets. It ensures your children and loved ones are entitled to the home you worked hard for. Your cherished possessions can be protected and you’ll leave something behind when you’re no longer around to take care of things.

And yet, according to a 2016 study, only 32 percent of Brits aged between 35 and 54 have written a will. We quite understandably don’t like to think about death and it’s this fear of the unknown that makes making a will such a commonly diverted topic. But, without a will, your assets are out of your control and are therefore controlled by the rules of intestacy (more on that, later).

So, what are the main differences between dying with a will and dying without? Beaumont Legal Wills & Probate expert Thomas Grice sat down to help you understand the key differences and what they mean for you and your loved ones.

You pass away with a will

Thomas Grice answers frequently asked questions about how your will is used when you die.

Who will handle my will when I die?

The executors named in your will are the people that deal with everything once you have passed. They’re responsible for getting everything you own together and passing it on to whoever you have named in your will (your “beneficiaries”). This means they will collect all your possessions and any money from your bank accounts and investments, plus sell any properties you own, if necessary. They’re also responsible for paying any inheritance tax due from an estate and then distributing your assets to your beneficiaries as stated in your will.

What should I consider when choosing an executor?

Anyone can be your executor; however, we would always recommend that you choose someone who is close to you and would be comfortable dealing with your estate. This could be your partner or your children.  You can also name a professional individual, such as a solicitor or financial adviser as your executor.

How long will it take for my assets, such as my house and belongings, to be passed on to my children when I die?

Unfortunately, it is difficult for us to say how long this process could be, as there are several factors that can affect the length of time it takes to pass on assets. This can include who the assets are held with, the size of the assets, whether a Grant of Probate is required and whether Inheritance Tax is payable.

What about debts, such as my mortgage? What will happen to them?

Any debts you have need to be paid off by your executors. Any monies owed to banks etc. are normally paid once monies have been obtained from any assets. Plus, all mortgages are repaid after the sale of the property.

What about a Power of Attorney? Will that come into effect when I die?

No. A Power of Attorney is irrelevant when a person dies; this document is important for when you are living. Any Power of Attorney you have in place isn’t effective once you have passed. To find out more about choosing a Power of Attorney through Beaumont Legal, speak to one of our team.

You pass away without a will

Without a will, complications can occur when the inevitable happens. Thomas Grice answers some questions that often arise

Firstly, what does interstate mean?

Intestate simply means that you have passed away without making a will. This would therefore mean that your assets would be distributed in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy. You won’t have control over where your assets go.

Intestacy, defined: Intestacy is when an individual’s estate has to be addressed and carried out, without the guidance of a valid will.

If I were to die intestate, could someone still sort out my affairs?

Yes, but they’d need to apply for a grant of representation or grant of probate. In this scenario, Money Advice Service recommends using a solicitor to clarify what can often be a tricky situation. Beaumont Legal specialises in probate and our team is happy to assist you should you be seeking legal help.

What are the benefits to making a will?

By making a will, you’re ensuring your possessions and belongings are passed on to the people you request. While you may wish for a majority of your belongings to be passed on to a partner or children, the rules of intestacy do not allow for everyone in your life to be considered.

If I don’t make a will, what could my loved ones be missing out on?

Without a will, there is nothing documented to show who you wanted your belongings to be passed on to. Personal possessions that may hold some significance to a certain loved one would simply be handled as per the intestacy rules, so your significant possessions may not end up where you wanted them to.

When is the best time to make a will?

There is no better time to make a will than right now. Once you have made your will, you’ll have the comfort of knowing there’s a plan in place for when you pass. Even if you already have a will, you should always review and update it to deal with your current belongings and possessions.

Who can be a beneficiary in a will?

You can name anyone as a beneficiary under your will. Most people tend to choose their partners and children; however, it does not need to be limited to these people.  You can leave gifts to other family members, friends and even charities.

How do I go about making a will?

Our Online Will Builder is an easy, convenient way to make a will to protect your assets and the future of your loved ones. The whole process can be done through our easy-to-use portal, and if you get stuck or would prefer to talk to one of our team, we’re just a phone call or email away.

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