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The importance of writing a will



writing a willAlthough no one likes to think about it, writing a will should be a must for any parent, as failure to do so could mean the only legacy we leave behind is a financial mess.

It may not be top of your to-do list right now, but next month provides an ideal opportunity for you to grab a heavily discounted service via Will Aid and tick it off your list.

Every November, participating solicitors waive their fee for writing a basic will. Instead, they invite their clients to make a donation to Will Aid which then distributes the funds among a panel of nine leading charities, including Age UK, the NSPCC and ActionAid.

Suggested donations start from just £40 for an amendment to an existing will (known as a codicil), £90 for a basic will and £135 for a pair of basic "mirror" wills for couples. This offers significant savings compared to the standard cost of writing a will.

Risk

Dying intestate - without a will - means that you have no say in what happens to your assets, and it could result in your hard-earned cash being absorbed into the Treasury's reserves.

"It is a mistake to assume that if you die without a proper will, your loved ones will be automatically provided for. On the contrary, they may face months or even years of stress and expense while they try to sort out your affairs," says Shirley Marsland, the campaign manager for Will Aid.

Unmarried couples have to be particularly careful because they have no rights to inherit without a will and any children of the deceased will inherit everything when they turn 18, potentially leaving the partner with nothing.

Married couples only automatically inherit up to the first £250,000 of a spouse's assets if they have children, or £450,000 if they have none.

If both you and your partner were to die then it could be down to the courts to decide who looks after your children if you fail to make provision for their guardianship in a will.

Inheritance tax liability

Making sure you have a will in place will also help to manage any inheritance tax liability. This 40% charge will affect all those with total assets worth more than £325,000.

Married couples and civil partners are allowed to pass on unlimited amounts of money or property to each other tax-free and any unused allowance can be transferred to the surviving partner which, in the current tax year, means they could leave up to £650,000 jointly without having to foot a tax bill.





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