Ensure your legacy is honoured by writing a will
Clarity is key when writing a will. The July appeal case highlighted in The Independent, where the will writer’s wishes were overturned has sent tremors through the UK’s legal community.
Wills are important
It’s still important to write a will. Despite the July ruling by the Court of Appeal, where a disinherited daughter, Heather Illot, was awarded £164,000 from her deceased mother’s (Melita Jackson’s) estate. If you don’t write a will you will die intestate. This means that it’s up to the courts who will receive all of your assets after your death.
The charities that were originally the sole beneficiaries of the late Melita Jackson still received a portion of her estate even after the appeal ruling. Without a will, they would have received nothing. If you have property overseas, the matter becomes even more complicated and you should consult a firm of notaries. They will advise how to draft a will and register it in the country where you hold bank accounts and property.
Don’t leave it too late
It’s a sad fact of life that death can come at any time. This is why it’s so important to draft a will. The website Unbiased states that 70% of UK adults in their 40s haven’t written a will. You can download a will kit from the internet but if you want to be absolutely certain that your will is prepared in a concise manner and in accordance with The Wills Act, then you should consult a solicitor. You can change your will at any time you wish and as long as the executor is aware of the existence of your most recent will, and you revoke any previous wills, then your assigned heirs and charities should receive their inheritance.
Changes in the law
The July appeal ruling is important as it means that if you’ve left a descendent out of your will, they can now challenge your decision and may win a portion of the estate. Andrew Wilkinson from the firm, Shakespeare Martineau, suggests that people ‘provide a clear and concise explanation in their will of what provision is being made for whom and why.’ If you want to leave money to charity you must show that this action is not being taken from spite. If you don’t want a sizeable portion of your estate to end up in lawyer’s fees, take your time over drafting your will, and include reasons for your bequests.
Trusts can help
Another way in which you can ensure that your wishes are upheld is to create a trust. According to Rachel Griffin from Old Mutual Wealth, a trust can remain confidential, you can choose your beneficiaries and you will remain in control of who benefits from your assets on your death.
The ramifications from the Court of Appeal ruling will rumble on for some time. If you want to ensure that your wishes are upheld after your death; make a will, get it legally drafted and explain to all what you are doing and why.
The editorial unit