Wills and Powers of Attorney: why bother?

So why would you bother making a Will?  We are often asked this as clients may tell us that their affairs are so simple that they don’t think it is necessary. But if we then go on to chat with them about their family situation things can change. There may be family disagreements. Separations, remarriages, stepchildren and cohabitants are now very common and can affect the succession to your estate.

We understand some people will be happy for their assets are distributed according to the law of intestacy. You do, however, need to be clear as to what that law says in that respect with reference to your own situation. Do you know what your spouse would be entitled to if you died without a Will?  Do you know, for example, that they would only be entitled to a house, furniture and cash up to certain limits?  If you are unmarried, do you know that your cohabitant has to go to court to make a claim?  If you are relying on this as an alternative to making a Will please be sure you know how it will apply to your estate.

There are other benefits to making a Will, however. One of the fundamental things that it is does is appoint your Executors. Those are the people whom you entrust to carry out your wishes and divide your estate. If no Executors are appointed then it often requires another Court process to have someone appointed. Simply by making a Will you avoid these extra costs.

Your Will also allows you to leave specific bequests of items or cash sums. It allows you to let people know what you would like done at your funeral and it allows you to divide your assets according to what you personally think is fair – fairness does not always mean equality.

Telling your loved ones exactly what you want can give huge comfort and means that there is less likely to be any dispute.

The law in Scotland does provide that spouses/civil partners and children, have legal rights in your estate notwithstanding what you have written in your Will.  These are claimed from your moveable estate (in other words not land and property). It is not possible to claim legal rights and take the benefit under the Will.  However, it is worth having a discussion about legal rights if you have concerns about a potential claim.

Wills can be simple or quite complex. They may set up trusts for specific purposes. They are also often part of a tax planning exercise and exploring whether inheritance tax is likely to apply to your estate is very much part of what we do when we discuss Will making with you. Once we know your personal situation we can advise on that and give you a clear estimate of the costs involved.

If you would like further information regarding the topics discussed in this blog, please contact:

Dorothy Kellas by email: dkellas@gilsongray.co.uk or by phone: 01620 897 174 / 07711 984 919

The information and opinions contained in this blog are for information only. They are not intended to constitute advice and should not be relied upon or considered as a replacement for advice. Before acting on any of the information contained in this blog, please seek specific advice from Gilson Gray.

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