There is an unspoken assumption that Wills are only for older family members. That unless you have lived an unspecified number of years that you are ‘too young’ to make a Will.
Neglecting to make a Will at any stage of life can cause a whole host of problems for the family members of people who die unexpectedly. If no Will was ever made – loved ones will find themselves having to navigate the unclear and sometimes unfair rules of intestacy. There may be an increased risk of dispute between dissatisfied family members or partners.
Making a Will is the best way to avoid this unnecessary trauma if you should pass away. Below are some key things to think about when considering if now is the right time for you to make a Will.
Anyone over the age of 18 can make a Will. An individual’s 20’s may not seem like the automatic time to plan a Will, but in some circumstances it is absolutely essential.
- Who do you want to be the guardian of any young children that you have if something happened? What about any money left for them – who do you want to look after it until they turn 18?
- Partners. Perhaps you are in a long term relationship, but have no plans to get married (either now or ever). Long term partners, no matter how long you have been together, have no automatic right to your estate. A Will is the only way to include them in your inheritance.
- Property. If you are lucky to be able to buy your first home during your 20s, having a Will is essential. Some young home owners think that, because the value is mostly tied up in a mortgage, it’s not going to be worth putting a Will in place. However, most mortgage companies recommend (and some insist) on you getting life insurance to help pay off that mortgage should one of the owners pass away before it is paid off. Plus, if you have other people living with you (such as flat mates, a partner, or children), it’s important to specify what you want to happen to your share of the house if something happened to you.
- Marriage/Civil Partnership. Not to suggest that people don’t get married at any age, people under 40 are much less likely to have a Will. Tying the knot is a good reason to consider what provision you have in place should the worse happen. It’s also worth remembering that a marriage will revoke any existing Wills, so it may be necessary to update the same.
- Business assets. Business owners and partnerships should carefully consider what would happen to the business if one of the owners passed away. Certain insurance policies, shareholders agreements and partnership agreements are all important things to take advice on when setting up business. A Will can tie in with all of these to make sure that your legacy can continue the way you want it to when you’re no longer around.
- Death of family members. It might be that, at some point in your life, you receive an inheritance from a parent or grandparent. This may not drastically change your financial status, but it is worth considering if it affects your own inheritance tax position. Making some decisions early on about estate planning, can prevent nasty surprises for your loved ones later on.
- Retirement planning. It may be that your children are now grown up and have properties of their own. Perhaps you’re hoping to retire early and are taking some independent financial advice about this. This is a perfect time to also review your Will. If you made one before, the chances are your circumstances have changed, and your financial position may allow you to make some decisions about lifetime gifts to family members.
- Do they get a mention in your Will? Many people choose to leave a legacy to their grandchildren in their Will. Sometimes it’s with the hope that the sum, whatever size, will be used for something specific – like the deposit on a house, or to continue an education. Perhaps your children are comfortable in their own right, and so you want to make sure your grandchildren have some funds in the future.
- Care planning. Perhaps not at the forefront of your mind in your 50s or 60s, but it may be something you have experienced with older relatives. The cost of care can really make a dent in people’s finances, and so early planning can save a lot of heart ache later.
Ready to make your Will?
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