Have You Written A Will?

More than half of us haven’t written a will, even though this means we could leave a terrible mess behind when we die. Many assume that if we die without a will our estate will still make its way to the right people, but this is not true. When there is no will your assets are split according to the rules of intestacy. This means that if you are married anything you own jointly will pass to your spouse. But everything else won’t.

In England and Wales your spouse will get the £270,000 and half of the rest. The remainder is then split between your children, or if you have no children your parents and siblings. There is no such thing as a common-law partner under UK law so even if you have lived together for decades, if you aren’t married (or in a civil partnership) and you die without a will they will get nothing.

If you are unmarried your estate will pass to your children, parents, siblings, distant family … or even Prince Charles. Prince Charles ends up getting plenty of money as a result of our general failure to write a will. If you die without one and have no family your estate goes to the crown, unless you live in Cornwall where the Duchy of Cornwall – Prince Charles – gets your assets. This has resulted in Prince Charles receiving over £1m, which he has handed on to charity.

The only way to ensure that your money goes instead to the people you want to receive it is to make a will. You can stipulate not only who gets what from your financial assets, but it also provides you with the opportunity to distribute your treasured possessions to the people who you think will most appreciate them. In order to ensure you get a legally binding will that reflects your exact wishes you should see a solicitor. You will typically pay around £140-£240.

If you and your partner both need a will you can keep your costs down by getting mirror wills. This is where both wills are exactly the same leaving everything to each other or your children and you just reverse your names on them. Alternatively, March and October are Free Wills Months. In these months anyone aged 55 or over can get a will written or updated by a solicitor for free. You are encouraged to make a donation to charity in your will in return for getting free legal advice. If you are worried about inheritance tax, note that if you give at least 10% of your estate to charity you’ll reduce your inheritance tax charge from 40% to 36%.

Once you have a will, don’t rest on your laurels. Review it at key stages in your life: births, marriages, deaths or the end of a relationship. Bear in mind that when you divorce your ex-spouse is automatically removed from your will, but if you only separate, they could still benefit even if you die years later. When writing your will be aware that anyone will be able to read it after you die. All wills become public documents that can be found via the Gov.uk website.

Motivational Quote Of The Day

“Risks must be taken 
because the greatest   
hazard in life is to risk            nothing.”                                                   

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Leo Buscaglia

Alternative Quote Of The Day

“In Pizza Express you can get garlic bread with cheese and tomato. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s a pizza.”        

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Jimmy Carr 

Become An Online Expert

If you’re an expert in something…and most of us are an expert in something or other…you can offer your advice online and turn it into profit. Small business owners are particularly well placed to cash in on this opportunity because they tend to know their field very well. Michele Gorham, owner of Cookie Central Bakery, is one small business owner who has turned her expertise into online profits.

She has created hundreds of blog entries about how to build a business, run a bakery, and other helpful topics, and she answers customer’s direct questions through various social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Yelp. Because of Gorham’s content contributions, her listings on various sites are highly trafficked and are regularly found by search engines – generating more sales for her business.

Is this a strategy you could emulate in your own field? Give it some thought. You may have a great deal more to offer than you at first realise.

Today’s National Day   

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Best Wishes  

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John Harrison 

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