If Prince didn’t make a will, then why should you?
There is no doubt about it, the musician Prince amassed a huge amount of wealth during his lifetime, yet he died intestate at the age of 57. Given all that Prince accomplished, you might be thinking, why didn’t he make a will? Perhaps he thought he was too young to make a will; perhaps he did not want to think about his own mortality; or perhaps he thought, as most of us do, that he would deal with it tomorrow.
Whatever the reason, in all likelihood, Prince probably did not anticipate dying at a relatively young age. So, if Prince did not make a will, then why should you?
If you die without making a will, then your estate will be distributed in accordance with the rules of Intestacy and the results of that may not be what you imagined.
In addition, your loved ones will be left to resolve your financial affairs, facing uncertainty and confusion, at a time when they are grieving. Of course, it goes without saying that the bigger the estate, the more complex the process becomes. The value of your estate might not be in the same category as Prince’s estate, but making a will ensures that your estate is distributed according to your wishes. This is particularly important if you have children or other dependants who may not be able to care for themselves.
One point to note is that under the Intestacy rules, there is no provision for co-habiting couples. It is, however, possible for the surviving partner to bring a claim against the estate, but as with all litigation, it is an expensive and stressful procedure. The Office of National Statistics recently released a bulletin which confirms that marriage rates, in England & Wales, have decreased for the first time since 2009. This is, in all likelihood, due to an increase in the number of couples opting to co-habit rather than marry (for more guidance on co-habitation rights, Priya Dhokia, in our Family Department, explores this here).
If you are married then, under the Intestacy rules, your spouse would only be entitled to the first £250,000 of your estate (plus half of what remains thereafter). This means that if your house is worth more, then technically, it would have to be sold and divided up in accordance with the Intestacy rules, or trust is imposed.
Making a will provides certainty for your loved ones. It can be daunting experience, but actually, the process is relatively straightforward. It is always advisable to instruct a solicitor to advise you and draft your will, but here are some points that you will need to consider:
- What assets you have;
- Who you would like to leave your assets to;
- Whether there are any potential family members who could argue you have not adequately provided for them;
- If you have infant children, you should decide who you would like to appoint as their guardian(s);
- Any specific wishes that you might have, for example if you wish to leave money or items (known as legacies) to specific charities, friends, other family members etc.;
- Who you would like to appoint as the Executors of your will. These are the people who carry out the administration of your will after your death. This could be anyone – friends, family, your solicitor, but ideally, someone who is comfortable dealing with financial matters. It is also common to name two executors so that the responsibility is shared.
Once this has all been drawn up in a clear document, all that is left to execute it is your signature. Many wills are deemed invalid due to the fact they have not been signed correctly which is why as mentioned it is always advisable for a solicitor to oversee this process.
If you would like to discuss your will or plan how you would like your estate to be handled, please contact our Private Client Department.
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