People who do not have a partner or any children can sometimes feel like the estate planning process is unnecessary. With no dependents, they may think that they do not need to worry about leaving provision for a time when they are no longer around.
However, even if you do not have a partner or any children, there are still many benefits to making a Will - and challenges for those closest to you to navigate if you do not. In this article, I look at why you should consider making a Will, even if you have no dependents.
Many of the key advantages in making a Will are applicable regardless of your situation. Without a Will, disputes may arise amongst those closest to you which can be time consuming, costly and emotionally draining for all involved.
Outlined below are some of the other advantages of drafting a Will irrespective of your personal circumstances.
When making a Will, you can choose the people whom you wish to deal with your affairs after you die, known as your executors. Your executor will have many responsibilities, including ingathering your estate and distributing your assets in line with your Will, and should therefore be someone you trust. Without a Will, an application to court must usually be made to have executors appointed. Generally, anyone who is entitled to benefit from your intestate estate may be appointed as an executor and so appointing an executor in your Will gives you the certainty that the people who will deal with the administration of your estate are the individuals that you have personally chosen.
Although you may not be married, cohabiting, or have any children, there will, of course, be people in your life who make up what you consider to be your “family circle”. Whether that is close friends or other members of your family, a Will allows you to explicitly state who you wish to inherit from your estate, giving your loved ones clear directions about how you want your estate to be distributed.
Choosing who will benefit from your Will is a very personal decision which often takes into account a variety of different factors and family dynamics. Without a valid Will, a set of default legal rules will decide who benefits from your estate instead of you. For individuals who are married or parents, then proportions of their estates will be distributed to their surviving spouse or their children. However, if you are single and do not have any children then the intestacy laws may mean that your assets will pass to relatives you would not ordinarily choose, or leave other relatives that you want to benefit from your estate with nothing. In the rare scenario where an individual dies without a Will and without any extended family members to benefit from the intestacy rules, the entire estate would pass to the Crown. More about the Scottish laws of intestacy can be read here.
If you have a charity or cause that you support, you may want to consider leaving all or part of your estate to that organisation. Without a Will, you are unable to provide such a donation.
Perhaps you have jewellery, artwork or other personal items that are of sentimental value. You can leave these items to specific people in your Will, even if they do not have much financial value.
Adam Swayne is a solicitor within our Asset Protection Group and specialises in estate planning and Wills.
By putting in place a Will, you ensure that you control who will administer your estate and who will benefit from your estate, guaranteeing that your estate is distributed in line with your wishes and avoiding the risk of disputes, unnecessary stress, and increased administration costs.
If this article has raised any questions or you would like to discuss any issues covered here, then please complete our contact form, or call us on 0131 225 1200 to speak to one of our specialist estate planning lawyers.
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