As the pandemic pushed the annual death rate above average, research has found that it did prompt people to make a Will.
A survey entitled the UK Wills, Trusts and Probate Market Report 2020 conducted by market research consultancy IRN Research found that of those with a Will, 4% had made it because of the coronavirus situation.
The survey calculated that as 36% of adults have a Will in place and the adult population of the UK is 53 million, then a total of around 19 million have a Will.
The main reason cited by most people for making a Will was simply peace of mind, with 67% giving this answer. 49% wanted to ensure their estate would be distributed as they intended after their death. 36% of those questioned said they made a Will to secure the future of their family, with 35% making a Will when they had children.
In fact, there are many good reasons to put a valid Will in place, including the following.
To ensure your estate goes to those you wish to benefit from it.
If someone dies without a Will, then their estate passes under the Rules of Intestacy to close family members. For example, if someone is married and has children, then the first £270,000 of their estate, plus all of their personal possessions will go to their spouse together with half of the remainder of the estate. Their children will share the remaining half of the estate equally between them upon reaching 18 years old. This could result in your children or your partner receiving less than you would like them to have.
To avoid the sideways disinheritance trap.
If someone has children and then marries for a second time, there could be a risk that their children will lose out. A marriage automatically invalidates a Will, meaning that the new spouse could inherit the bulk of the estate. It is then open to them to leave it to their children, as well as a risk it could be spent, for example, in care home fees.
To protect your children.
As well as leaving your estate to your children, you can also appoint a guardian for them if they are under the age of 18. If you do not make a Will, then it would be for the Court to decide where they should live.
To set up a trust.
A Will can be used to set up a trust, which can be used for a variety of reasons. You can put money for your children into a trust until they reach the age at which you would like them to inherit.
You can also put your share of any jointly owned property into a trust, giving your spouse or partner a life interest in your share so that they can live there for as long as they want, but so that the proceeds of sale after they no longer need the home will pass to other beneficiaries, such as children.
To minimise the Inheritance Tax payable.
By using estate planning, you can legitimately reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax your executors will be required to pay, meaning you can leave more of your assets to your loved ones.
It can be a complex area however, so taking professional advice is always recommended.
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