No Will = Extra Stress

After eleven years in the Will writing profession, I still find it hard to believe that nearly 70% of the country’s population leave the distribution of their hard-earned assets for the law to decide whom it goes to. That’s what happens when someone dies without leaving a Will – their Estate (literally everything they own) is declared “intestate” and is dealt with under the laws of intestacy. In reality, this means that very often, persons whom the deceased would have wanted to benefit don’t, and persons whom the deceased would not have wanted to benefit, do!

It also means that the deceased’s Estate has not been protected in any way against the potential of yet another hefty tax bill – this time 40% in Inheritance Tax (IHT) – which is so easily legally avoidable, by the use of simple planning measures both within the Will and in other Trust arrangements throughout lifetime.

Then there is the potential that the surviving partner or spouse may need to go in to long-term care, and with that comes the possibility of the family home having to be sold to pay for such care. Again, this is something which can be planned for with suitable measures put in place within the Will.

Perhaps most importantly though is the unnecessary stress which will be caused to those who are left behind who have no choice but to get involved in “tidying up the mess”. This not only inevitably involves bureaucracy and the consequent time delays (intestate Estates sometimes take up to two years to clear through the process of Probate), but also fending off family feuds and squabbles, not to mention of course, dealing with the grief of losing a loved one. It is also usual to have to employ the services of a specialist probate lawyer to handle the process – at a cost of anything between 3-6% of the Estate value!

The simple answer of course is to write a Will. However, we do understand that for many people – it’s simply not as easy as that. Usually it involves a lot of thinking about the assets and planning where each should go, but for some it is also a case of considering their mortality – and that’s where sometimes the delays occur! All we do know is that when clients do finally get around to making their Will, they heave a sigh of relief when it’s done because it gives peace of mind to all concerned.