When a close one suddenly passes away, it can be a shock for the whole family. My Mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer in June this year and passed away in August. Even now, it is hard to believe that she has gone. However, I am grateful that Mum had a Will. It has made things a lot easier to deal with.
This was nearly not the case when a family friend passed away earlier this year. For the purpose of this article, I will refer to him as Tom. Tom first asked me to write his Will in 2016 as he knew he had terminal cancer. Despite this, Tom kept putting it off and eventually signed his Will one week before he passed away. Tom’s Estate was bequeathed to a close friend.
Had Tom’s Will not been signed, he would have died intestate and his whole estate would have gone to the Crown, as Tom had no surviving family.
Only with a valid Will can you be certain that your estate will go to the right people:
- you can specify how long funds must be held in trust for children, to any age you deem appropriate.
- You may wish friends or charities to benefit.
- You may also want to outline personal wishes, such as funeral arrangements or who should inherit particular property or items of worth.
- You may also exclude family members who you don’t want to benefit from your estate in a will.
Even if you have made a will, you need to ensure it is updated.
If you do not draw up a proper Will:
- the rules of intestacy award none of the estate to stepchildren and live-in partners, regardless of the longevity of the relationship.
- Unless you have a joint mortgage, the house that you share with your live-in partner could potentially be passed onto your children, parents, siblings or the state, leaving your partner homeless.
- In the event that both you and your spouse die, you would have no say in who becomes your children’s guardian. If your child or children are under the age of 18 it is important you have a Will for this reason.
- You may not want parents or siblings to benefit to the detriment of your spouse.
- There may be personal wishes that cannot be fulfilled without a will.
- Friends or charities would not benefit.
- Failure to have a Will can cause acrimony and complications. Look no further than famous stars such as Barry White, Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix whose families squabbled for years because they all died intestate.
A client’s mother recently passed away and they were unable to find the Will. Not knowing their mother’s wishes, they decided upon a cremation ceremony. Only weeks after the funeral, they found a document stating that their mother had purchased a burial plot many years ago. This has been difficult for the family to come to terms with, knowing that their mother’s wishes have not been met.
It is vitally important that family members know where your Will is kept and that a duplicate is stored with a Will writer or financial adviser.
For an informal chat, contact Dawn on 01969 623092.
Dawn Clarkson – Wills and Estate Planning Ltd, Thornborough Hall, Leyburn.
(Sister Company to Dawn Clarkson Associates)
Drop is sessions: Reeth Memorial Hall, 1st Friday of every month – 9am to 12pm from April 2018