The Covid-19 pandemic has seen an unprecedented rise in the demand for wills, as people look to get their affairs in order. Owing to the social distancing rules, however, we have had to adopt more creative ways to help our clients complete wills – with meetings in supermarket carparks, where witnessing can take place through car windows, but allowing everyone involved to remain apart.
For us at Broomhead & Saul, where we are proud of offering a personalised service, with face-to-face meetings, as opposed to things being done more remotely, we are as equally proud to have risen to the challenge of these new constraints.
Aside from the increase in demand – nationally this has been reported to be a 76% increase, against usual figures – it makes sense that many of those will of course be those who were yet to get around to making a will, but if you have one already, what’s the fuss and should you also being giving this some thought?
In simple terms, everyone needs a will; as without it you will be relying on the intestacy rules – rules which often lead to unexpected consequences. Co-habiting with a partner and living together does not guarantee that the partner left behind will be able to remain in what was a joint home. The myth that a co-habiting couple will each inherit from the other, because they are living together in a common law marriage is just that, a myth. With a property passing to the next of kind – perhaps children from a former relationship – can leave a grieving partner without a home.
But back to that question about why you should even give this any thought, if you already have a will – if you have recently been married, or indeed have been married where you already had your will in place, will likely mean that you are in fact intestate – i.e. you no longer have a valid will in place, as marriage invalidates a previously-made will, except in the unlikely circumstances that you explicitly included the correct clause which anticipated your future marriage taking place.
Likewise, if you will was completed some time ago, assuming that it does remain valid, does it still reflect what you intend it to?
You can, technically, make an updated amendment to an existing will, via a codicil, but these days it is much safer to simply update your will with a new document covering everything you want it to say, so that there can be no ambiguity. And that is the essential point; your will is your opportunity to set out what you want to happen when you are gone; for example, who might be guardians for your children, who might inherit and enjoy into the future your favourite items and how the value of your estate should be divided.
Reviewing your will now also presents an opportunity to consider digital assets – such as social media accounts; you can specify what you want to happen to these and importantly (something that is often overlooked) can consider how your family will know how to gain access to your accounts when you are gone.
Although we are not able to meet face-to-face in the usual way, we have been helping local individuals and families to complete their wills, with some novelty along the way! So call us and speak with one of our private client team to discuss how you can ensure one of the biggest areas to ensure peace of mind, is settled, by speaking with one of our friendly private client team.