It’s National Will Month! Watermans Legal wants to raise awareness on the importance of having an up to date Will. Having a Will drafted can outline what you would like to happen after your death, however brief or elaborate. This can simultaneously allow your own peace of mind and clarity for loved ones. Watermans Legal can assist with drafting, amending and finalising these important documents. Death can be an uncomfortable subject and a Will allows you the privacy to express your wishes. Creating a Will additionally provides the opportunity to ensure that your funeral wishes are recognised. Without a Will, you may have to rely on those closest to you to respect your wishes.
Why write a Will?
Control over your last wishes
Having a valid Will prepared in Scotland provides the opportunity to control what happens to your assets after your death. All your assets including your home, money and belongings are collectively referred to as the ‘estate’ in your Will. Having a Will allows you to make arrangements for how your estate is to be distributed to friends, family or charities. Without a Will, you are said to have died ‘intestate’ and this results in the law stepping in and making decisions regarding your assets and what should happen to them.
For your family
A Will is an opportunity to put safety nets in place for your children. A Will allows for money to be left for children in a trust, until such a time as they are old enough to access it. Furthermore, it is also worth noting that currently stepchildren have no rights to a stepparent’s estate. Therefore, a Will provides the opportunity to leave part of your estate to stepchildren.
As well as allowing you to leave your estate to friends and family, a Will also provides the opportunity to leave a gift or donation to a specific charity through a legacy. A legacy is a donation to a specific person or entity such as a charity. This can be the whole or part of your estate. There are also tax advantages that come with creating a Will. Leaving donations to charity in your will assures those donations are not subject to Inheritance Tax, so you can be confident that the entire donation is being left to your chosen charity. If you decide in your Will to leave 10% of your estate to charity, then the remaining value of your estate would benefit from a reduced rate of Inheritance Tax payable on your estate from 40% to 36%.
To save time and money
Without a Will the executry process is much more complicated and additional costs can accumulate. One of the main consequences of not having a Will is that nobody is appointed to act as the Executor of the estate. Without a Will, the Executor, referred to as an Executor Dative, must be appointed by the court which can be a timely process. Furthermore, an insurance bond over the estate must also be sought. This is known as a Bond of Caution (pronounced Kay-shun). These processes incur additional time and costs which could be avoided through having a Will prepared.
Who’s in and who’s out
Lastly, although a Will provides you with a certain level of control over what is to happen after you pass, it is not an infallible document. It is not possible, for instance, to disinherit children and spouses/civil partners in Scotland. Children and spouses/civil partners can claim what are referred to as ‘legal rights.’ These are calculated against the moveable estate – meaning anything not fixed to the ground e.g. money in bank accounts etc. Legal rights allow protection against disinheritance and thus it is important to bear in mind when having your Will drafted. Even if no arrangements are provided in your Will, legal rights can still be claimed by the relevant people.
Our advice would be to prepare a Will with us today! For tailored, straightforward, legal advice, contact the Watermans Legal team on 0131 467 5566