Making a Will
You may not want to think about what will happen after you die and the thought of putting it down in writing can be upsetting.
However, having honest conversations about what you and the person you care want to happen after you both pass away can provide a greater peace of mind for everyone. Writing a will ensures that your wishes are set out clearly and you can choose who you want to deal with things on your behalf. By not planning for the future, you could be leaving your family with extra work at what is already an emotional time.
What is a Will?
A will is a legal document setting out how your assets (money, property, land, other possessions) will be managed following your death.
It is important to write a will if you have a family member with reduced capacity or some other type of disability. You will need to consider what provision you want to make for the person you care for, in addition to other people you may wish to provide for.
You can find more information about writing a will on the Citizen’s Advice website.
If your intended beneficiaries are vulnerable or disabled, you may need to consider creating a trust in the will, to ensure assets can be appropriately managed.
What is a trust?
A trust is a way of looking after assets for people. It is a legal arrangement where one or more ‘trustees’ are made legally responsible for managing the assets in trust. A trust can be set up in your lifetime or in your will, and is one of the best ways to make financial provision for a person who is vulnerable.
If you set up a trust with a solicitor you will have to appoint trustees while you are still alive to administer the trust when you are deceased. It is best to choose people who are a generation younger than you, so that they will be around for a long time to support your relative.
How do I make a will or trust for the person I care for?
Seek advice from a solicitor as this can be complex. You may be able to:
- write one yourself – you can buy templates online.
- use a will-writing service. Will-writing services can be cheaper than solicitors, but unlike solicitors, they aren’t necessarily legally qualified.
If your will is complex, it might be best for a solicitor to complete this.
If the person is not able to understand what making a will means, they are unaware of how much money they have or what property they own or they have lost the mental capacity to manage their finances, you may need to apply to the Court of Protection in order to make a will on their behalf.
What happens when someone dies and has not made a will?
If someone dies without making a will, then the rules of intestacy will apply. This means that the law will decide who will inherit your assets. Whilst this may work in some circumstances, for many it will not (for example couples who are not married or in a civil partnership, or those with young children).
A lengthy administrative process, disputes between family members and financial hardship can be some of the repercussions for families when a loved one dies without making a will.