A will – can you afford not to?

9 August 2018

Research suggests that more than half of all adults in Belfast do not have a will.*

It is probably one of the most important documents you will ever sign but the topic of Wills is not an easy subject to talk about. Most of us put it off, some unfortunately until it is too late.

If you die without a will this is called dying intestate and your assets will be distributed under the Rules of Intestacy. If you are not married or in a civil partnership your partner will not inherit any assets held in your sole name, instead these assets will pass directly to your children.  This can cause financial difficulty for your family.  If you are married or in a civil partnership the first £250,000 of your estate will pass to your spouse along with all your personal possessions.  The remainder of your estate will be divided 50% to your spouse and 50% to your children in equal shares, which they will receive at 18 years of age.  Jointly owned assets will pass to the joint owner if held as Joint Tenants but if they are held as Tenants in Common they too will be subject to the Rules of Intestacy.

Having a well-drafted will in place will ensure that your assets pass to your loved ones in the manner you desire and also make the process of Probate easier for your family.

Along with a will you should also consider an Enduring Power of Attorney. Appointing an Enduring Power of Attorney enables you to choose a person called an Attorney to deal with your financial property and affairs, which continues in the event of your becoming mentally incapable of managing your own financial affairs.  You may choose or more attorneys to act on your behalf.

No-one likes to think about losing the ability to manage our own affairs; however the reality is that it can happen to anyone. By planning ahead and making an Enduring Power of Attorney, you are able to give your instructions whilst you are of sound mind, as a precautionary measure in case you are no longer capable of doing so at some point in the future. By making an Enduring Power of Attorney you do so with the knowledge that you are appointing someone you trust to make those important decisions on your behalf.  So whatever is around the corner, you have the peace of mind that your financial interests will be protected.

As we get older, the possibility of needing long-term residential care or of going into a nursing home may become a concern to many.  If this does happen to you or your spouse, your life savings along with your home could be used to pay for your care, which my leave little or nothing for your family to inherit. It may be possible, with careful estate planning, to preserve some or all of your assets for your family.


For further information please contact Judy Rose TEP of O’Reilly Stewart Solicitors on 02890321000 or judy.rose@oreillystewart.com.

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