If you’ve yet to make a will or haven’t reviewed yours in a while, it should be a financial planning priority. A will lets you set out what you want to happen to your assets when you pass away, and it’s important for several key reasons.
Yet, data from Will Aid shows that almost half of British adults don’t have a will.
As an expat, your estate and affairs can be complex and include assets in several countries.
Australian law recognises a will that you have prepared in another country. So, you can have a single will covering all your assets.
However, some people may choose to write two wills, covering assets in the UK and Australia separately. This can avoid complications and delays, but you need to take care that they work together and don’t revoke each other. Taking professional advice can help you avoid potential conflicts.
If writing your will is something you’ve been putting off, here are five important reasons to make it a priority.
1. A will helps your assets go to who you want them to
A will is an important part of your estate plan to ensure your assets are passed on according to your wishes.
Through a will, you can dictate who you want to benefit from your estate and how you’d like assets distributed. This can include items that have sentimental, rather than financial, value. For instance, you may want your daughter to inherit your jewellery.
If there is no will, both the UK and Australia have intestacy rules. These set out who will benefit from your estate.
Intestacy rules can be very different from your wishes. For instance, a partner that you’re not married to or in a civil partnership with will not inherit anything in the UK and may not in Australia.
Without a will, organisations that you may want to benefit from your estate, such as charities, will also be overlooked.
2. A will can help avoid family disputes
If you don’t have a will in place, your loved ones may not know what your wishes are, and it can cause conflict.
A will means you can clearly set out what you want to happen. You can also use a will to explain your decisions if you choose to.
You may want to discuss the contents of your will with your family, so there are no surprises that could cause conflict.
Will disputes are rare, but they can happen. According to iNews, 192 disputes were fought in the UK High Court in 2020.
For a will to be contested in the UK or Australia, there must be valid grounds to do so. This means the will must either be invalid or that it doesn’t make provisions for someone who was previously financially dependent on you, such as young children.
If you believe that your will could cause disputes, a legal professional can help you minimise the risk.
3. A will can reduce stress for your family
Dealing with the loss of a loved one is difficult. As well as grieving, your family may need to organise a funeral and put your affairs in order.
Having a will means your family don’t need to consider how you would have wanted assets distributed.
You can also use your will to highlight other wishes you may have, such as whether you’d prefer a burial or cremation. This can provide valuable guidance for your family during an emotional time when they may need to make a lot of decisions.
4. It provides a chance to help family and loved ones after your death
When you think about your financial goals, it’s likely you include your family. Perhaps you want to help grandchildren further their education or ensure that children can retire in comfort?
Leaving an inheritance in your will can mean you can support loved ones after your death. An inheritance can provide valuable financial security for your loved ones.
While you are thinking about passing on assets to your loved ones, it’s also a good time to consider whether your estate could be liable for Inheritance Tax (IHT).
As you may have assets in different countries, considering IHT can be more difficult. Whether your estate will be liable will depend on a range of factors, including the value of your assets and whether you’re domiciled in the UK.
Effective succession planning as an expat can be more complex, so it’s important you consider IHT to maximise what you’ll leave behind for loved ones. If you have any questions, please contact us.
It’s not just financial security that a will can provide either. If you have dependents, you can use a will to name a guardian. Despite this, a third of British parents haven’t named a guardian for their children in their will, according to a Will Aid survey.
5. You can appoint an executor you trust
An executor is a person who organises your estate after you pass away. You can choose an executor in your will.
It means you can choose someone who you trust and is happy to take on the responsibility of acting on your behalf. You may choose more than one executor, and it can be a family member or friend. They can also inherit something from your will.
Alternatively, you may choose to appoint a professional executor, such as a solicitor. This can be useful if your estate is large or complex, or if your family members don’t want to take on the role.
If you don’t have a will to name an executor, it can result in a delay, and it could mean the executor appointed isn’t the person you would choose.
Get in touch
If you have any queries regarding your financial and estate plan, please get in touch with us.
The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate estate planning, tax planning or will writing.