It seems in the weeks following Christmas, there’s been an unusual increase in the number of people asking my department to help them in making a will or take out a lasting power of attorney.
While the reasons aren’t immediately obvious to me (perhaps it’s down to recent media coverage about the importance of making a will or hype about what mysterious things may or may not happen on December 21st this year) it’s clear that more people are realising the importance of planning for the future both in their lifetime and beyond.
Circumstances have a nasty habit of changing quickly and without warning. Illness, mental incapacity and the grim reaper have no regard for age, wealth, success, attractiveness, Facebook status or any of your future plans and unless you make the right preparations, you, your family or even business partners could end up with some very big practical and financial problems.
The way our society has progressed means that making a will is more important now than ever before. More couples are choosing to live together sometimes for many years without marrying, but the law does not recognise this arrangement. Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing (legally) as a common-law wife or husband and should the person you live with die, your partner would not inherit your estate.
If you have children, then your estate would be divided between them when they have reached the age of 18. If you don’t have children, your estate would pass to your parents and if they were no longer here; your brothers and sisters. The chain continues through various levels of the family until it finally reaches “the Crown” (in other words, the Chancellor of the Exchequer).
We are reminded all too often by events in the news that you’re never too young to make a will.
By doing so you ensure where your estate will go after your death; you can leave as little or as much to whoever you want and these wishes can be made clear to everyone so there’s no arguments over what people think they may or may not have been entitled to. In my role as Partner overseeing contentious probate matters, I can say one of the common phrases I hear is that “a ring/necklace/cutlery/etc. was promised to me”. You will (hopefully!) eliminate any of this occurring.
A will also gives you the opportunity to set out funeral plans so you get what you want, not what people think you would want. So if you want to be taken to the crematorium in a motorcycle hearse with Elvis Presley playing on the way out, here’s the time to say it.
More importantly, you can appoint someone you trust as Executor to administer the estate so that you can be confident your wishes are carried out exactly as you want them to be.
If one of your New Year resolutions was to finally get around to making a will, don’t put it off anymore. To make and appointment to make your will, telephone me on 01246 560598 or email me using our website’s contact form and we can discuss the entire process of making a will.
Paul Berresford is a Solicitor and Partner in the Wills and Probate Department at BRM Solicitors in Chesterfield. He specialises in contentious probate matters such as disputed wills and improper distributions of estates.