The startling rise follows recent social distancing and ‘lockdown’ restrictions caused by Coronavirus (COVID-19), which has made people think more seriously about financial planning and how death is an unavoidable reality that comes to us all.
Alex Sealy, Partner & Head of Wills, Trusts & Probate at Slater Heelis Solicitors, says: “We are certainly seeing a significant rise in people looking to write a Will but what is really worrying is the lack of understanding we see from the majority of those people calling the office. It’s not just a lack of understanding about how wills work but also an incredible naivety in how Wills actually protect your wishes, your inheritance and most importantly, your children.
“It’s no longer something that the millennial generation can put off and without doubt, the onset of a global pandemic has made the issue of mortality a pressing reality for everyone. It’s actually one of the few positive outcomes from the situation, as many people in the past have underestimated the stress, upheaval, cost; and in some cases arguments that cause families to fall apart, that comes with having loose ends and if we can alleviate this, it will be a blessing for many.
“Of course, it’s not nice to think about but without a will your wishes may not be met and you also leave yourself open to loved ones arguing and children missing out on what is rightfully theirs. Worryingly, your inheritance could also be left to someone in your family you actually don’t want to have it from a will you may not have updated following changes in your personal circumstances such as a separation or divorce which some people don’t even consider!
“With most of us having little understanding about wills, it is really important to dispel the many myths I hear and I would urge people to act now before it’s too late. Planning now can give you the peace of mind that your loved ones will be cared for and they won’t face unnecessary and difficult disputes in the future.”
Top 5 Will writing myths – Advice from Alex Sealy of Slater Heelis
- Some people don’t need them – Regardless of whether you have minimal assets or no family members, there are always friends, acquaintances and charities that can benefit from your legacy. For instance, even those with no family members may want to make a difference to a charity or cause close to their heart as part of their last gesture.
- Co-habiting ensures a claim on assets - When people die without a Will, rules of intestacy come into action and for couples who aren’t married or in a civil partnership, under these rules, they have no right to inherit from their partner when there is no Will in place. The myth that people who have lived or been together for a longer period of time are entitled to more is just not true. Legal rights for cohabiting couples are the same whether they have lived together for one year or one decade and with no Will, there are no rights.
- Wills don’t need to be reviewed over time - Our priorities change throughout our lives, and keeping a Will updated in-line with these priorities can ensure that whatever happens, everything is taken care of for the ones you love most. There is a fee when making changes and seeking solicitors’ advice, but as an investment, having the peace of mind that the Will is watertight and in line with your wishes, is a wise investment to make.
· It’s not all about the money – It’s upsetting to think about, but the decision over who would care for your children in the event of your passing is vital. Appointing your closest friends or family to take care of your children in case anything does happen can make you feel much more relaxed. It can also help to foster strong and long-lasting relationships between your children and adults you respect who can inspire them.
· Avoiding inheritance tax is easy – This is one area where many people fail to make adequate provisions. There are ways in which you can arrange your assets so that your loved ones can avoid financial pitfalls. If you do have high value assets which would go beyond the threshold of £325,000, it is worthwhile seeking professional advice on to ensure you have a tax-efficient Will in place.