Making a Will is not on top of everyone’s agenda. When you are 18, you think you will live forever and besides, you don’t often have very much to leave. If you are going to live forever, you don’t really need a Will! However, by the time you get to 50, you start to do the sums and wonder how much time you have left. It’s not morbid, it’s just what you do. Frequently, I compare myself to my mother-in-law who is 86 so I could still be going for another 36 years. I hope I am a cheerful 86 year old. Then there’s Cilla Black who died at 72 so I could have another 22 years ahead of me but my mother in law would have died 14 years ago. Sounds a bit morbid but as you age, you do calculations like this on and off.
You can’t predict when or where your allotted time will arrive but it is human nature to bargain with the numbers. If you like the odd tipple or indulge in the odd crafty cigarette, then you might have to juggle the figures a little bit more, usually downwards. Having reached 50 with not too many bad habits under my belt, my thoughts have shifted more and more to what happens when I go. I don’t feel morbid or sad – I just think about it a little more often. I don’t have children, by choice, and have accumulated the usual, a house, mortgage, a car and two dogs. I am from an Irish family and we have the usual extended family issues and like many family oriented cultures, we don’t always get on with each other. We like nothing more than holding a grudge for twenty years. Deciding who gets what is difficult and you will always offend somebody. It really doesn’t matter that you are dead – you will live to regret bad decisions in life.
The bottom line is I needed to have a Will. Like most people, I procrastinated. I was too preoccupied with work, the housework, family commitments and how I would provide for my old age. It kept getting put down the bottom of the list. Eventually I made a Will but it did take me about 2 years.
It wasn’t easy because not having children limits your options a little. You could leave things to friends but if they are the same age, they could just as easily go before you. I could leave everything to my husband, and I just might as it is more tax efficient. However, he has a smaller family circle than I do. Deciding who inherits is an issue for us both.
The act of making a Will focusses the mind. You add up your assets and subtract your debts, the net result is what your estate would amount to. It is simplistic but that’s the bare bones of it. You want to be as tax efficient as you can be. You make use of your spouse as any gift to him is spousal exempt and is tax free. I chose a professional executor, not a bank as they charge too much. My husband gets first and then it is nieces and nephews who are top of my list to inherit. I have always felt they would benefit most from the gifts. They don’t get anything until they are 30. Why 30? Looking at them now in their late teens, early twenties, I don’t think they have the same value or understanding of money as I did at 20. They will probably lose it just as quick as they receive it if they get it too early, or pay off debt. For many they have not been able to afford to get married yet. Rightly or wrongly, I think that having money at an early age attracts the wrong sort of life partner. I have a couple of charities I support, not the big ones but ones that would get the most benefit from the gift and do the most with it, without the administration costs. Woe betide to any member of the family who challenges my Will and the gift to charity.
So, my Will is done. It is relatively straightforward and I expect that I will have to pay some tax but I hope and plan to live for a long time and spend the money doing things I really enjoy doing. I would like to travel more with my husband, see more of my family other than at my funeral. Making a Will is not a painful process; it is just a process that most people put off. Yes there are inheritance tax considerations but having a Will is definitely better than not having one.
If you would like expert advice on making a Will, please contact me, Eilish Adams on 020 8899 6620 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.