Last year it was revealed that three in five adults in the UK have not made a Will, according to research conducted by Canada Life. Despite the losses that have been suffered during the past year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the vast majority of people still appear to be unaware of the implications of not having a Will in place to deal with their personal affairs in the event of death.
The pandemic has however provided us all with time to reflect and has been a poignant reminder of the importance of protecting those closest to you. It has helped some people (particularly the younger generation) to put aside their denial of the future and confront sensitive and potentially uncomfortable thoughts, which they may have otherwise delayed until much later in life.
Given the rise in UK household wealth over the past year, due to increased saving over the lockdown periods and the growth in the value of assets, the importance of protecting your wealth to safeguard the future of your loved ones has never been more significant and should be addressed without delay.
What is a Will and what can be covered?
- A Will is a legally enforceable document that identifies who you want to appoint to handle your estate and how your assets are to be distributed after you die.
- A Will can be bespoke and tailored to your circumstances and needs and can include protection for children under age, those with any disabilities and provisions for any marital considerations.
What are the requirements of a having a valid Will?
- You must be 18 or over;
- Be under no duress when making the Will;
- Be of sound mind;
- Be made in writing; and
- Be signed in the presence of two witnesses (who are not themselves mentioned in the Will), be over the age of 18 and for each of the witnesses to have signed the Will.
What about social distancing?
Whilst having the Will witnessed in person is preferable, if social distancing or self-isolation is required, then the signing of a Will can now be validly witnessed in person but also remotely, as specified in the amendment made to The Wills Act 1837 i.e. for Wills made on or after 31/1/2020 or on or before 31/1/2022.
Who can draft a Will?
Lawyers, Will writers, charities and other organisations who specifically deal with this area. You can even draft your own Will, which is commonly known as a “DIY Will”.
It is not uncommon for people to draft their “DIY Wills” at home, however it is not recommended. It may contain possible errors which may unknowingly invalidate the entire Will.
What happens if I do not make a Will?
If you die without a Will, then the statutory Intestacy rules apply. It is a common misconception that if one of a married couple dies, the estate of the deceased automatically passes to the surviving spouse. The Intestacy rules are rather more complex and create life interests in part of the Estate, depending on the number of children you may have. If you have no children, then different rules apply so that your estate is left to other surviving family members, which may not be in accordance with your wishes.
If you want to take control to ensure that your loved ones are protected upon your death (and particularly if you are cohabiting, have children and/or you do not in fact wish for your closest family members to inherit from your estate), then you must make a Will.
How can Philip Ross Solicitors assist me?
We recommend having your Wills drafted by a Private Wealth lawyer who specialises in drafting Wills and handling estates, as they can help you comply with the legal requirements needed for a valid Will and can also consider your individual circumstances carefully to ensure that your personal affairs are in order for the future.
The Private Wealth legal team at Philip Ross Solicitors headed by Andrew Fishman and supported by Amantha Seneviratne and Roumana Shah can assist in drafting Wills, dealing with your personal affairs and planning for the future.
This article is prepared with the intention of providing general information on the changes in law. Philip Ross Solicitors accept no responsibility for errors it may contain and the coverage of the topic is not comprehensive. You are advised to speak directly to the writer or another partner within this firm within any specific enquiries on the topic addressed.