Wanting to protect your children and make proper provision for your dependents is one of the most natural instincts we have. Yet by not making a valid will, or by not keeping an existing will up to date, you may be exposing the people you wish to protect and provide for most from the uncertainties of the modern world.
Modern life is complicated and so too are our personal relationships and family lives. Second and third marriages are not uncommon and with the plethora of step-relations they bring can store trouble for the future. A properly drafted will can ensure that the most vulnerable members of your family benefit from your estate and not leave you at the mercy of the intestacy rules; legislation prescribed by the government that dictate how your assets are to be divided.
As an example; imagine that Ann and Brian are married and have two children Charlotte and David. If they divorced and Ann subsequently remarried Eric who had his own child Freya we would have a not unfamiliar family unit. If Ann died before Eric and neither made a will, on Ann’s death (assuming a relatively modest estate of less than £250,000.00) all of her assets would pass to Eric. On Eric’s death, his estate, which now also includes all of Ann’s assets, would pass to his daughter, Freya. This means that Charlotte and David, even though they are Ann’s natural children, do not benefit from her estate.
A situation like this could be avoided by incorporating appropriate planning techniques within a Will. If both Ann and Eric had prepared mirror Wills that include a gift of a life interest to the surviving spouse with the remainder passing to their respective children then the double goals of ensuring that the survivor of them had access to sufficient funds for the rest of their life while ultimately providing for their own children would be achieved.
Through the appropriate use of life time and/or post-death trusts you can protect your children’s inheritance from the unfortunate ramifications of a divorce or bankruptcy, provide money for a specific purpose such as funding for further or higher education or protect a vulnerable beneficiary that may never be able to support themselves independently. Appropriate planning can also allow assets to “skip” a generation where the testators’ children do not need or wish for the value in their own estate to be swelled by their parents’ assets.
A will can also be used for appointing guardians for your children to ensure that should the unthinkable happen and you and your partner are no longer around, they will be looked after by the people you decide on until they reach the age of eighteen. Nominating guardians at an early stage in a Will can help avoid potentially ugly disputes between surviving or competing family members who may be struggling to come to terms with bereavement.
Too many people, young and old, do not have a will and by extension are not safeguarding their own future financial safety or that of their families. By engaging the expertise of a skilled professional and a little forward planning you can enjoy watching your family grow; happy in the knowledge that you have, to the best of your ability, provided for them whatever life may throw at them.
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