Monday, 26 February 2018
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January 2018

Family Law: A Will – Can You Afford Not To?

New Year's Resolutions with O’Reilly Stewart Solicitors - Putting Your Affairs In Order.

Seventy seven per cent of parents with children under the age of five have not made a will*
It is probably one of the most important documents you will ever sign but the topic of wills is not an easy subject to talk about. Most of us put it off, some unfortunately until it is too late.
As a Solicitor and qualified Trust and Estate Practitioner,Judy Rose answers some of the most frequently asked questions about wills.

Q. Do I need a will if I don’t own property but have children?

Yes! By having a will you can ensure that your children are provided for financially when you are gone. Another very important aspect of a will is the ability to state who the guardians of your children will be – if you don’t have a will the Court decides who your children live with and this may not be the person you would choose.

Q. How will my partner and children be affected if I die without a will?

If you die without a will this is called dying intestate and your assets will be distributed under the Rules of Intestacy. If you are not married or in a civil partnership your partner will not inherit any of your assets which are held in your sole name, instead they will pass directly to your children. This can cause financial difficulty for your family. If you are married or in a civil partnership the first £250,000 of your estate will pass to your spouse along with all your personal possessions. The remainder of your estate will be divided 50 per cent to your spouse and 50 per cent to your children in equal shares which they will receive at 18 years of age. Jointly owned assets will pass to the joint owner if held as Joint Tenants but if they are held as Tenants in Common they too will be subject to the Rules of Intestacy.

Q. I am not married and I own the property my partner and children live in – will my partner be able to stay in the house if I die?

Without a will the house will pass under the rules of intestacy and as I have previously advised this means that co-habiting partners would be bypassed and your children will own your family home. Depending on what financial arrangements you have in place, a situation like this may mean that the family home has to be sold.

Q. Are my stepchildren provided for automatically if I don’t have a will?

No, only biological and adopted children will inherit in accordance with the rules of intestacy if you don’t have a will. You can only provide for stepchildren within your will.

Q. We are both divorced with children from our previous marriage. We all live together as one family and hope to get married soon – how do I ensure my children are provided for when I die?

It’s important in this situation to have a will to ensure that your assets pass directly to your children and also so you can provide for your stepchildren as well if that is your wish. Without a will your assets would pass directly to your new spouse once you are married and your children may end up getting nothing if your new spouse subsequently leaves everything to their children upon death.

Q. Can I put a trust in place within my will?

Within your will you can have a trust put in place which will provide for your children financially. You can leave clear instructions as to how you want your child to be brought up and give your trustee directions on how they should distribute your assets to ensure that those assets last for your children’s lifetime and cater for all their needs.

Q. What age do my children inherit?

Under the rules of intestacy when you don’t have a will the law states that a child is to inherit once they turn 18. While some children may be mature enough to cope with inheritance at 18, others may not. If you have a will you can stipulate at exactly what age your children inherit and you can appoint Trustees to look after their inheritance until they turn of age.

Q. I’m worried a will might be expensive?

A will is very inexpensive in comparison to what could happen to your estate if you do not have a will. The cost depends on whether it is a single will or a pair of joint wills.

If you have any further queries for Judy, she can be contacted on Tel 028 9032 1000 or judy.rose@oreillystewart.com. Anyone quoting Ni4kids will receive a discount on their will.

* Source – Foresters Friendly Society and ICM

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