As we raise awareness of dementia this week, we continue to stress the importance for everyone to have a will in place, regardless of your age or circumstances. If you have lost capacity, you cannot put a will in place and if you die without a will, this can cause uncertainty and difficulties for your family and those you are leaving behind. But what does this mean for you and your family? What are the benefits and why should you have a will?

(1) Control

Having a will lets you decide who will receive your estate and when they will receive it. A will not only allows you to choose who receives your estate and in what proportions, but also when they receive it. You can include conditions in your will as well as trust provisions, allowing your estate to be held on behalf of certain individuals (e.g. for young children until they attain a certain age). You can choose to leave particular items to particular people (e.g. leaving your watch to a certain friend or family member) and you can choose to leave your whole estate to a number of different people or groups and charities.

A will also allows you to choose who your executors are and who will administer your estate following the time of your death. Administering an estate can range from a straightforward estate, where following the provisions of the will are easy to follow, to a more complex estate which involves the operation of a trust for certain beneficiaries. Your executors can have an important role to play, especially when a trust is involved, and a will allows you to choose who those people will be.

(2) Protection

A will can offer protection for those who you wish to receive your estate. This may include vulnerable beneficiaries, such as young children or those suffering from a disability, or it may include certain individuals who may squander their inheritance or may expose their inheritance to potential risks (such as marital breakdown or bankruptcy). A will allows you to leave assets in trust for these beneficiaries, allowing funds to be protected and distributed to them over time as opposed to them receiving a lump sum following your death. Your executors retain and control the assets for the benefit of the beneficiaries.

A will also gives you the ability to appoint a guardian for your young children, in the event of your death while your children are under the age of 16.

(3) Cost effective

Your will can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. We can offer you the right advice on what should be included in your will, depending on your personal circumstances and we can provide an estimate of costs.

If you die without a will, which is known as dying ‘intestate’, this can lead to additional costs, administration and delays when dealing with your estate following the time of your death. This can add frustration at an already difficult time. Putting a will in place now can save significant costs in the future.

(4) Quick to put in place

A will can be put in place promptly and within a number of days, if it is required urgently.

Once your will has been prepared and signed, you can update it at any time and make any necessary changes as your circumstances change.

(5) Certainty and peace of mind

A will offers certainty and peace of mind for you and your family by clarifying who will receive your estate, in what proportions and when they will receive it.

We want to stress the importance of having a will and ‘bust the myths’ and common misconceptions surrounding wills. These are the main advantages of having a will and we would encourage everyone, regardless of age, circumstance or wealth, to put a will in place. This document can make administering your estate following death more straightforward for you and your family.

While we are all living through these unprecedented times and adjusting our lives as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, our personal team at Brodies across our offices are all working remotely and can assist you with putting a will in place as well as discussing any questions or concerns you might have. Please do not hesitate to contact us and we would be happy to help.