Perhaps it’s a question you have thought about now and then – should I make a will?
Chances are, you’ve thought about it, then put it on the back burner, something to think about another time, perhaps when you get older.
The trouble is, we don’t know when our date to depart this world will be, and if you haven’t made a will, then you’re placing a massive burden on those nearest and dearest to you.
This, at a time when they’re already grieving and struggling to cope with the loss of a loved one.
Craig Jackson, a solicitor with McClure Solicitors which has an office in Aberdeen, specialises in, amongst other things, wills, Powers of Attourney and Trusts.
In answer to the question – why should I make a will? he said: “Well if you don’t, the law decides for you, so you might not get what you want. After all who knows best?
“Additionally, it will generally cost more and take longer to wind up your estate, so a will, even a simple will, makes sense,” he said.
“None of us know what is around the corner. If you don’t do it now, you probably never will.”
Once you’ve made the decision to make a will comes the decision as to who to use.
“You can use a solicitor or a will writer,” said Mr Jackson.
“It is obviously very important to get it right and there are no second chances, so use a professional but someone who specialises in estate planning not just standard wills.
“After all, what matters is not who inherits when you die but where your estate will end up after you
die. There is a big difference.”
It’s always best to seek professional help when it comes to writing a will, as that ensures your money and assets go where you want them to, which offers great peace of mind.
USING A WILL WRITER
Dennis Gardener is principle of Saltire Will Solutions, and is a will writer of 10 years’ experience.
“Why do we need a will? They can sort it out when I’ve gone; they will get it anyway; I will have spent it all before I’ve gone.
“How many times have I heard these classic phrases, and how often do people not realise the problems they are leaving behind?” said Dennis.
“If you don’t have a legal will written at the time you die that can be found and presented into court your estate will be seen as intestate and the laws of Scotland will dictate who gets what and when.”
Complications arising from this include:
A spouse having to sell the home they shared with their partner for a lifetime because the children have to be paid their legal rights.
A couple who live together are in a worse position because you are not treated as generously and have to “prove” your entitlement to inherit.
Children can receive more than their other parent.
The courts will decide on whom should look after children under 16, while a teenager aged 16 would be entitled to their legal share of an estate without any supervision or advice of how to spend it.
“Winding up estates where there is no will can take years, cost considerable sums of money and the losers will be the
people who the deceased wanted looked after,” said Dennis.
“Then there are the arguments over who should have had what and when, while members of the family who you disapprove of can inherit when you did not want them to receive anything.
“Your favourite charity, which you have supported for years, will receive nothing unless it is stated in a will.”
Getting advice from a professional will writer is not difficult and knowing that they are a member of an accredited body will give you valuable peace of mind. The Institute of
Scottish Professional Will writers are the only will writers whose code of conduct is approved by the Trading Standards Institute.
Advice given allows people to make clear decisions on what they wish to happen and know that their wishes will be adhered to.
LEAVING A LEGACY
When a person dies all their debts and funeral
expenses need to be settled first, then specific bequests and legacies are given, for example, a particular piece of jewellery, a private number plate, a property, a particular painting, followed by pecuniary/monetary legacies and lastly comes the residue or residual legacy (what is left).
A legacy is simply “a gift” left to a specific person, group of people or charitable organisation by a person who has died.
Types of legacies include: Pecuniary (money), bequests of property, and residuary legacies (what is left of the estate).
It’s important charity supporters choose the right one.
If a person’s estate is not big enough to fulfil all the requests the residue disappears firstly to pay the debts then pecuniary legacies and lastly specific requests have to be sold to clear the debts.
Forty years ago, £100 was a considerable amount but now it unfortunately won’t go far, so inflation-proofing or leaving percentages can be much more realistic.
Leaving property which stipulates that someone has to live in it can again cause undue problems
and possible hardship
if that person can’t afford the upkeep or be able to sell.
Charitable legacy gifts should be made so that if
the charity has amalgamated, changed its name
or disappeared it still goes where you had wanted.