There are two main answers to that question. By making a Will you choose (i) who you want to deal with the administration of your affairs on your death, and (ii) who you want to benefit from your estate. It’s worth expanding a bit on each of those reasons.
(i) the administration of your affairs
- Whether you make a Will or not someone has got to be officially appointed to deal with the paperwork involved in administering your estate and transferring it to your beneficiaries. These appointees are called your “executors”.
- If you make a Will you can appoint who you want to be your executors.
- If you don’t make a Will then the law lays down who is entitled to apply to court to be appointed. That means you don’t get to choose who is appointed and there is the added delay and expense of a court application.
(ii) the beneficiaries of your estate
- Whether you make a Will or not someone has got to inherit your estate.
- If you make a Will you can decide who inherits what – and how and when they do so. For example, if you have children you might not want your property to be made over to them at age 16 which would (generally) be their entitlement if there is no Will.
- So, your Will could provide that the children were not to become entitled until, say, age 21 or 25. Alternatively, you might want particular property to go to someone for their lifetime and, on their death, to others (e.g. your children). A Will can provide for any such situation.
- If you don’t make a Will the law lays down who gets what. Broadly speaking, if you are married or in a civil partnership, your husband, wife, or partner would be entitled to a fixed share of your estate and anything over and above that would go to any children you might have. Otherwise it would go to your nearest relatives. Any children would (usually) be entitled to have their inheritance paid over to them at age 16.
Two More Particular – But Unrelated – Reasons for Making a Will
- If you or you and your spouse or civil partner have young children it is sensible to appoint ”guardians” for the children in your Will to cover the possibility of both of you dying before the children are grown up. Such an appointment in a Will can have full legal effect. If there is no Will things are more complicated.
- Many people nowadays live together either as a prelude to, or instead of, getting married or entering into a civil partnership. In such a situation, if you die without making a Will your partner would not automatically get anything: he or she may however apply to the court for a share of your estate. It is then up to the court to decide how much. It is better to make a Will and avoid that sort of uncertainty.
Note: This material is for information purposes only and does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation by us. You should not rely upon it in making any decisions or taking or refraining from taking any action. If you would like us to advise you on any of the matters covered in this material, please contact Neil Mackenzie: firstname.lastname@example.org