Almost everyone recognises the fact that one day, at some distant point in the future, they will die and it follows, therefore, that they will need a will. Yet surprisingly 69% of people still don’t have a will, many believing that the day a will be required is still far off.
The consequences of not writing a will can be far-reaching, even devastating for loved ones. Part of the estate could end up going to the treasury (who benefitted in this way by more than £50m in 2010) with another chunk being swallowed up by lawyer’s fees as your relatives try to split your savings amicably. Sometimes the “amicably” does not last very long!
While the loss of money can be upsetting, the significance of not having a will can actually be much greater and although rare it has been known for a deceased’s child or children to be raised in a foster home or looked after by unsuitable relatives simply because a guardian hadn’t been appointed. Increasingly, there are cases of children being completely cut off after a remarriage leaves the entire estate in the new spouse’s name.
Hopefully these are the worst case scenarios but without doubt writing a will is essential to the long term happiness of your family and the smooth administration of your estate.
In 2011 The High Court saw 663 cases launched by claimants who were contesting wills, probates and trusts – double the number in 2006 and the number o f such cases continues to rise each year. Furthermore, these figures are only the tip of the iceberg as the vast majority are settled before they get to court.
Not having a will and all that follows is hardly the sort of legacy that anyone wants to leave.
Matthew Evans, of Hugh James, explains: “Many family estates have been decimated by the financial crisis, leaving less money for beneficiaries after a death. Sometimes that comes as a big surprise, tempting some family members to go to court to attempt to increase their share of the estate.”
It’s hardly a surprise, therefore, that the number of court cases of this nature is on the rise in this tough financial climate. The best way to guard against such a scenario dividing your family is to write a will that is up to date.
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