New year is a time for making resolutions and while many pledges to join a gym or take up a new hobby don’t make it to February, there are some more practical goals that can not only be fulfilled, but come with implications that could literally last beyond your own lifetime.
Making a will is one of these. Like so many other necessary tasks, it can easily be put on a long ‘to do’ list that somehow never gets completed. Some people may make it a priority if they are terminally ill and know their time is short, but a great many others do not get that opportunity, not least those who are not mentally competent to do so as the end nears.
The upshot is that almost half of Britons could die intestate, with this carrying some significant implications.
On the one hand, it may come as a relief to know that there are clear rules in place for such situations, including a defined list of priority for who gets to inherit and estate.
This begins with any surviving spouse or civil partner where there are no children, while surviving children of someone not married at the time of death (including adopted children) will be first in line in that instance. For those without children and not married, any surviving parents will be first in line, followed by siblings.
Estates could also be subject to inheritance tax, especially if there is no will to make provision for money to be held in trust in a way that shields it from this tax.
While all this may be logical, everyone should ask themselves if this is what they really want. If not, the will should set out exactly who should get what from the estate, including individuals or organisations (such as charities) that would not benefit in cases of intestacy.
Finally, it is just as important to update a will, as changes such as getting married since it was made can invalidate it.
Nobody knows what 2022 will bring for all of us, but just in case it is the worst, it is wise to make sure an up-to-date will is in place, just in case.