Looking at it another way – I keep putting off Writing a Will

When I meet a new client for the first time, I will ask them to bring along details of their investments and a brief resume of themselves and their objectives. When reviewing this information, very seldom has the person completed the section entitled ‘Have you written a Will?’. The reason I ask the question is that having a will in place is essential for sound financial planning. When we plan for our clients, we plan for the present time, the future and also consider generational/inheritance planning.

When asked the question, people will say things like ’yes I know I should have one’ or ‘I keep meaning to do it’. Over the years I have pondered about this reticence and have come to the conclusion that it is our fear of mortality – we will all die but perhaps facing that someone will, in the future, read ‘our will’ after we have gone means that we put it in a cupboard and shut the door.

However, this series of articles is about ‘thinking about things in a different way.’ Having a will in place is not going to make you die any sooner but it does give you ‘control’ – there is a saying that you cannot ‘control things from beyond the grave’ but by writing a will this can be disproved. Let us look at three important things which concern people; control over distribution of your possessions, control over how your affairs are managed and control over what happens to your children

Control over distribution of your possessions

If you write a will you are choosing how your possessions are being distributed and to whom. Without a will who inherits your possessions is determined by law and the law only recognises next of kin, so for example nothing will pass to your partner if you were not married or in a civil partnership, nothing can pass to step children or step brothers and sisters etc. The intestate distribution is a complex and long winded affair and in many cases will not reflect what you would have done had you just found time to write a will.

Control over managing your affairs

 When you die, your affairs will need to be wound up, your assets sold or transferred, your debts settled and your Estate distributed to those entitled to inherit. If there’s a Will, this task falls to the Executor of your Will. If there isn’t a Will, this responsibility will fall to one of your family members instead, and this person is known as the Administrator. You have no control over who will take on this role.  I would suggest that it is more comforting if you have selected the person to wind up your affairs, the Executor named by you in the will, someone you have selected, one or two people, who you know will deal with matters properly, speedily and without undue stress to the family.

Control over what happens to your children

Making sure that you have left your children to live in a stable environment should you die early in life is essential. It is not something that needs to be left to the family to resolve. If for no other reason, if you have young children, you need to write a will in which you have appointed Guardians for your children. This will mean everything to your children in the future – they will know that you took time to think about suitable people to care for them in a stable environment and that in turn these Guardians had made a positive decision to take on the responsibility – you could not leave a better legacy.

Hopefully, I have convinced you that there is a very good reason for writing a will, we now face the next barrier which is who will do this for you and how much will it cost? The obvious professional person to approach is a lawyer, however, their unknown fees and scary offices can put you off. If your affairs are complex my advice would be that you need expert help from a lawyer. It will be money well spent to secure the future financial wellbeing of your family.

However, if your affairs are more modest and your family situation non-complex then a cheaper option may be a will writer, you will find these in most localities. Nicholls Stevens have access to a will writing service. Clients find this a useful service because, as we already know about their financial affairs, it is easier for us to help them to put together the instructions for the will to be written.

Further information can be found on our Wills webpage or please do contact us through the usual channels for further information.