Why make a Will?
Statistics show only a third of the population have a Will in place. Whilst the number of people making a Will increases as they get older, it still leaves a vast amount of the population without a Will.
Why don’t people make a Will?
Understandably, death isn’t something many of us want to talk about. Many people assume that they don’t need a Will and that their assets will automatically pass to the person whom they would have wish to have benefited; but this is not always the case. Research suggests that the main reason that people have not made a Will is because they have not got round to it - meeting with a solicitor to discuss what happens to your estate on death is unlikely to be at the top of your to do list.
Are Wills just for the elderly?
Young people often overlook the importance of having a Will and see this as something they can attend to later in life. However, making a Will ensures you control who inherits your estate and unfortunately death does not discriminate against age.
Do I need a Will?
We recommend that every person aged 16 and over in Scotland ought to have a Will. This will insure that your wishes on how your estate is to be distributed are met when you die. Some people do not necessarily need a Will, however it is important that you speak with a solicitor to obtain the appropriate advice.
Why Parents should consider making a Will
If there is no surviving parent with parental responsibilities and you have not nominated a guardian in your Will, then a Court would have to decide on the appointment of a guardian to take care of any children aged under 16.
By nominating a guardian under your Will, it allows you to take control and choose the individual or individuals that you feel would be most appropriate to care for your children in your absence. It also simplifies matters without the need for grieving relatives to have to go to Court and may reduce the likelihood of family disputes over who should be appointed. Sometimes it may be appropriate to leave part of your estate in Trust if young or disabled children are to benefit from your estate. This could be for your children, or for your grandchildren, if you have children that have predeceased you and left young children behind. Making a Will allows you to choose the trustees for any Trust created under your Will and gives you peace of mind knowing that should the unimaginable happen, the individual or individuals you trust will be appointed.
I already have a Will, do I need to update it?
You should review your Will every five years, in case your circumstances have changed. It may not necessarily need updated that often, but it is good to check it to ensure it still meets your wishes. If there are any other changes in your personal circumstances, for example a separation or a death of a beneficiary, you may want to update your Will. There are other changes like a change of address that will not require you to update your Will, where a simple note placed with your Will is sufficient. If you are making simple changes to your Will, for example revoking the appointment of an executor and appointing someone else in their place, then this can be done by a Codicil rather than by having a new Will prepared.
What are the costs of making a Will?
The costs will vary depending on your requirements and circumstances. However, the costs of putting a Will in place are minimal when set against the significant costs, time and emotional distress which is often the result for families when someone dies without having made a Will.
Why should I pay to make a Will when I could write my own?
Whilst people sometimes think that they can just write their own Will, we would advise against this as information found online often relates specifically to English law. The requirements to make a Will valid under English Law are different than those under Scots law, and therefore you cannot be sure that all of your wishes will be given full effect to if you make a mistake in the writing or witnessing process.
Megan Maclean is an Associate in our Private Client department. If you have any questions about making or updating a Will please contact Megan on 0131 225 8705, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or alternatively contact a member of our Private Client team