Why should I make a Will?

In the latest issue of En Voyage, we talk about the importance of making a Will.

A Wills survey we conducted a couple of years ago showed 59% of islanders under 50 had not made a Will, despite 86% of those surveyed saying they believed it was important to have one.

So why is it important? A Will provides certainty for your family and friends at a difficult time and helps reduce the costs and timescales to administer your estate. Everyone’s family circumstances are different, meaning how your assets are divided after your death, can be different without a Will and not necessarily what you intended.

Did you know that if you have a partner but are not married or in a civil partnership, your partner will not receive anything from your estate on your death, regardless of how long you have been cohabiting? There is no such thing as a common law spouse, so you should make a Will if you want your partner to inherit your estate. Without a Will, your partner will have to make an application to court to claim against your estate. This is an uncertain, costly, stressful and time-consuming process which should be avoided.

If you own real estate and die without a Will, the heirs to your house or land will be unable to provide good title to a purchaser and will have to apply for an administration order from the Royal Court in order to sell. This process involves additional costs and might delay the sale. Making a Will naming the heirs to your real estate ensures that they have good title to sell the property on your death.

If you have children but want your spouse/civil partner to receive all your assets, you need to make a Will. Many spouses wish to leave everything to each other on the first spouse’s death to ensure the survivor is appropriately provided for during the rest of their lifetime. Thereafter they may decide to leave the estate to their children.

If you have minor children, you may want to consider naming a guardian or making specific trust provisions for them in your Will. ‘Descendants’ under the intestacy rules refer to both legitimate and illegitimate children and the distinction is best made by specifically naming your children in your Will.

It may well be that you want to leave part of your estate to persons other than your spouse and children. If you want to provide for other relatives such as stepchildren, or leave a gift to friends or charity, you should make a Will.

You may want to choose who will deal with your estate and making a Will allows you to appoint an executor to administer your estate. They will apply for a Grant of Probate if necessary, collect in your assets, settle any liabilities and distribute your estate to your heirs. You should appoint someone who you trust and who has the skills and time to be your executor to avoid any delay and/or financial loss. You can appoint the partners of a law firm. They will charge for their time but you will be satisfied that professionals are looking after your family’s best interests. We produce a free Our Guide To Probate if you wish to find out more.

Making a Will need not be a complex and time-consuming process, however, to ensure a Will is legally valid, it should be carefully drafted and the correct advice and guidance specific to your circumstances should be received. Get in touch if you would like to discuss your affairs in complete confidence and receive clear and concise advice, or ask us to send you our free Our Guide To Your Will.

 

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