Our top 10 tips for why millennials should have a will in place

Research conducted by Weightmans LLP shows that over 95% of those under 35 have not made a will. Here are our top 10 tips for why millennials should…

Research conducted by Weightmans shows that over 95% of those under 35 have not made a will.

Here are our top 10 tips for why millennials should have a will in place:

1. Determine who benefits from your estate

Without a will, the law in England & Wales (known as the Intestacy Rules) dictates who will benefit from your estate. Do not assume that the Intestacy Rules will be aligned with your own wishes. For example, unmarried partners will not benefit at all under the Intestacy Rules.

Making a will is the only way to guarantee your wishes are carried out. A will can also appoint guardians, determine the age at which your children should benefit from your estate and can create trusts for children which will delay the distribution of funds until they are mature enough to deal with their legacy.

2. Your “estate” doesn’t have to be a fortune

For those millennials who own property, making a will is vital.

But even for those who don’t own their home, making a Will can be equally as important. You may have more to leave than you think. Your ‘estate’ can include your home, money/savings, shares, jewellery and personal possessions (including items of sentimental value). Your will can also deal with your ‘digital assets’ – those with a financial value such as online banking, Uber, Paypal, subscription dating apps and those with a social value, such as a Facebook profile. A recent statement issued by the Chancellor of the High Court has confirmed that “crypto-assets” (such as Bitcoin) will also form part of your estate on death.

3. Deal with your debts

Your “estate” also includes your debts. Making a will gives your Executor(s) the power to collect in your estate and ensure that all your debts are paid. This can include credit cards, loans and outstanding bills. Student loans are usually cancelled on death, but the relevant authorities need to be informed. For those who own property, the mortgage will need to be repaid. Mortgage companies may only grant a very short “period of grace” after death before the mortgage must be redeemed in full.

4. Choose your Executors

Without a Will, the Intestacy Rules dictate who is legally entitled to deal with your estate and this may not be the person you would choose. By making a will, you can choose your Executors and Trustees – the people who deal with your estate after your death.

The Executor’s role is wide-ranging and may involve selling your property, closing bank accounts, ensuring debts are settled and paying the balance of the estate to your chosen beneficiaries. Remember, your Executor may also need to deal with your digital assets.

Making a will means you can choose who has access to and control of, for example, your Instagram account or Tinder profile after your death!

5. Appoint Guardians

Your will can appoint guardians for young children in the event that you die before they reach the age of 18. Only by making a will do you have a choice over who is appointed as guardian. If you die without a will, there could be disagreements about who should step in and in those circumstances, a court would have the final say.

6. Provide for cohabitees

The Intestacy Rules do not make any provision for unmarried partners or cohabitees. If you die without a will, your cohabiting partner would receive nothing. This is unlikely to be in line with your wishes.

Your partner may be left with no choice but to make a claim against your estate which may result in lengthy and costly litigation which could easily be avoided by making a will.

7. Cohabitation agreements and pre-nups

For those living with a partner, when making a will it is also worthwhile considering the creation a cohabitation or pre-nuptial agreement (or even a post-nuptial agreement, if you are already married). This sets out your respective financial positions and how your assets should be divided if the relationship comes to an end during your lifetime.

8. Re-pay the Bank of Mum and Dad

Many millennials may have borrowed or been gifted funds from their parents to assist with, for example, the purchase of a property. Were those funds intended to be repaid? Your will can ensure that repayment is provided for.

The situation becomes more complicated where a couple have bought property together with differing amounts of financial assistance from their respective parents. A ‘Declaration of Trust’ can set out your respective shares in the property and who should receive what in the event of a sale (either during lifetime or on death).

9. Provide for pets

Your will can include provision for the care of your pets in the event of your death. You can state who should take care of your pets and could include some provision for the individual concerned to assist with the associated financial burden. Unfortunately, you cannot gift money from your estate directly to your pet!

10. Give to charity

You can include charitable gifts in your will. Charitable legacies can be for any amount but can be hugely beneficial to charities. Gifts to registered UK charities also attract relief from Inheritance Tax.

Making a will is the only way to ensure your wishes are carried out in the event of your death. You are never too young to make a will.

If you have any questions or would like to know more about making a will please contact Lorraine Wilson, Solicitor on 0161 214 0532 or lorraine.wilson@weightmans.com.

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