Death is not a subject many young people contemplate much and nor should they. But as it is one of life’s few certainties, it is important to make sure certain provisions have been made. One provision that everyone should make, regardless of age, is having a valid and up to date will.
This is really important as it will ensure your assets are passed on to the people or charities you want to receive them. As an added bonus, it is also a useful way of gaining a clear overview of your current financial situation and assessing exactly what assets you have in your name.
So often, I hear people say: ‘I don’t have enough money’ or ‘I’m too young to worry about a will’. However, I argue that this doesn’t matter at all.
Here are three reasons why it doesn’t matter:
It’s important to note that this does not constitute personal advice and if you’re not sure whether an investment or savings account is right for you please seek professional financial advice.
Digital assets and physical possessions
You may not have much money sitting in your bank account, but think about everything you own.
Digital assets include, but are not limited to, email accounts, website domain names, social media profiles, online banking and investment accounts, and data stored on PCs, mobile phones, tablets and other devices. Even your blog or online business is a digital asset, and should be accounted for in a will, particularly if you’ve been monetising it.
There’s been a number of cases of families trying to gain access to pictures and other accounts after a loved one has passed away. You can make a difficult time much easier for those left behind by having everything stored safely in one easy-to-access location. Many law firms now offer a ‘digital portal’ where you can safely store passwords and other digital assets.
Most people think a house or property is the only possession worth mentioning. But this is not the case. If you add up all your possessions, you’d likely be surprised by the total value. Consider your car, laptop, phone, jewellery, or a watch, even your clothes have a certain value. Additionally, there may be sentimental items, which, although don’t have significant material value, are very important to you and you’d want them to end up in the right hands.
Cohabiting couples are the fastest growing family type according to the ONS, with 5 million (10.4 percent of the population) living with a partner unmarried in 2018.
However, the law is yet to catch up with the changing demographic of families. When a couple is married, if one of the spouses dies, all assets will automatically be passed on to the other spouse, unless clearly stated in a legal, valid will.
Despite many people believing it does, ‘Common law marriage’ does not exist in the UK, meaning cohabiting couples do not benefit from the same treatment as married couples and your partner could be left with nothing if you don’t make adequate provisions for them in a will. This could lead to your partner having to move out of your home or even get caught up in messy legal battles.
I’m sure most people would want to make sure their partner is secure and financially stable, if possible, if the worst were to happen. Having an up-to-date will is the simplest way to ensure this and take away the stress.
Of course, if the relationship does break down or your have children, you should update your will to reflect your current circumstances. Would you really want your ex to receive your money and/or assets if you passed away?
Even if you don’t have much cash in your current account, it’s likely you still have something to pass on. Just £1,000 could make a big difference with someone – wouldn’t you want to decide where that went? After all, you worked hard to earn the money, you should be in control of where it goes, not a lawyer or a judge.
Cases do end up in court fairly regularly, when there either isn’t a will, or it is not clear. This can be very painful for those left behind and cause a lot of tension and arguments. Taking the time to write a comprehensive and valid will can remove this pain and make a very difficult time that bit easier for your family and loved ones.
You may also have some money put aside in a savings account or Premium Bonds, perhaps set up a long time ago by a family member, so it’s worth checking these too. This is also a really useful exercise to establish how much money you have and work out what you need to do to achieve your saving goals.
Some jobs also have a death in service policy, which can be up to 4 or 5 times your annual salary, tax free. Check your contract to see if this applies to you or if your company offers a similar benefit. If so, I’m sure you’ll want to make sure this ends up in the right person’s hands as this could amount to a significant sum.
Pensions are another asset we often forget about. These can be confusing, so I explain more about pensions in this post.
Even if you don’t have a private pension, you should have a workplace pension, which over time can gather significant value. Even after a year of regular contributions, you would be surprised how much is in your pension pot. Again, this could make a huge difference to a family member or a charity if you take control and make your wishes clear in a will.
If you found this post interesting, please like it and share across social media or send it to your friends. I’d also love to hear your thoughts and experiences, so please do leave a comment! Do you have a will or are you thinking of making one?