The Importance of Having a Will - Wright Vigar
 In Advice, Blog

The importance of having a will

Setting up a will is one of the most important things you can do during your lifetime. It legally protects your children, assets and property, and will also determine how your estate is handled after your death. Although each person is individual and therefore has different needs, there are several factors which underline the importance of having a will.

Distribution of your estate  

A will is a legal instruction as to how you wish your estate to be distributed.  Unfortunately, if you die without a will, your estate will be distributed under intestacy law and this may not be in accordance with your wishes.  Having a will also help reduce the potential for conflict amongst potential beneficiaries.

Care of your children

If you die with children under the age of 18, having a will means you can specify who should take care of them. If a will is not present, the court will decide who will become the appointed legal guardian. Having a will which states your wishes will give you peace of mind that your chosen guardian will be caring for your child.

Control  over your estate

Writing a will means that you can appoint someone or more than one person to be your executor(s). Executors ensure that your affairs are in order and oversee the processes of obtaining probate and distributing the assets. It is important to choose people who are organised, honest and who you trust. They do not always have to be family members but need to be someone who you trust to deal with your will and ensure your wishes are carried out as accurately as possible

Facilitation of the probate process

All estates must go through “probate”  which is the entire process of administering a deceased person’s estate. Regardless of whether there is a will or not, this process will still take place. However, having a will can significantly speed up the process as it informs the court or legal representatives how the deceased wanted the assets to be distributed.  If there is no will, the intestacy rules will apply and the court will decide how money, assets, possessions and property will be distributed under law.  It can be time-consuming to identify the beneficiaries under these rules and there is more potential for estates to be contested.

Protection of your partner

If you are unmarried, having a will is essential. Unmarried partners are not legally entitled to anything from your estate even if you have been with them for years.

If your family home is in your sole name and you are not married, your partner will not automatically inherit the property. This means that without a will, they may lose the house.

Potential to reduce taxes

Having a will can assist with the reduction of taxes. For example, the amount of Inheritance tax charged is dependent on the value of your assets and how they are distributed.  Anything left to a spouse is automatically exempt from inheritance tax. In addition to this, there are reliefs relating to residential property which only apply if the property is left to lineal descendants. With any legacies, it is important to specify if they are to be left free of tax or not and advice should be sought in this regard.

Protection of your digital assets

Assets not only include your money or physical assets- digital assets such as photographs or websites also need to be considered. Emails, social media accounts etc will all form part of a person’s estate and therefore should be considered in a will. You can set out your wishes with regard to this information.

Supporting charity

Legacies to charity on death are exempt from inheritance tax and legacies also provide vital funds for the charity to continue their work. If you leave more than 10% of your estate to charity, the rate of inheritance tax applied to the estate is reduced to 36%.   In this way, it is possible to benefit a charity in your will without prejudicing the other beneficiaries.  Although it is never pleasant to think about, as you can see, there is a myriad of reasons that highlight the importance of having a will. Not only does it provide you with the legal means to determine what will happen to your own estate, but it can also help the process be less time confusing and stressful for your loved ones.  The Wright Vigar team are here to help, especially during these unprecedented times. Call us on 0845 880 5678 or email us on

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