Do You Need a Will if You Are Married? 0

Do you need a will if you are married - man and woman holding hands

Do I need a will if I am married?

It’s a question we hear a lot. And, being in the will writing business, perhaps it’s unsurprising that our answer is almost always Yes, you do. We would say that, wouldn’t we?

But for most people, married or not, a will really is an essential step. Especially as time goes on and your family grows. 

So, what’s the deal with marriage and wills? What happens if you die without a will? Here’s what you need to know.


Do you need a will if you are married? 5 things to consider…


1) Without a will, your spouse might not inherit as much as you’d think

A lot of married people put off making their will because they think their partner will inherit their whole estate anyway. 

And don’t get us wrong: if you’re married and you die without a will, your spouse will reap some substantial benefits. You might want to remember that the next time you put off taking the bins out. But (contrary to popular belief) they won’t necessarily get everything – it all depends on your family and the size of your estate. 

So, your spouse may well get your whole estate. They may not. Either way, you should still make a will. Why?

If your spouse inherited your estate and then remarried, their new husband or wife would be entitled to all or most of their estate in turn.

2) Leaving your estate to your partner isn’t always the best idea…

However much you love your husband or wife (and we’re assuming it’s a lot – if not, step this way…) you still might not want them to inherit everything you own. 

For example, you may prefer to leave most of it to your children to make use of, or set some funds aside for your parents’ care as they get older. You might want to make sure a few family heirlooms go to your siblings, or leave personal gifts for your close friends. To do any of these things, you need a will.

One other thing to think about is remarriage. If your spouse inherited your whole estate and then remarried, their new husband or wife would be entitled to their estate in turn. In the end, this could cut your children off from inheriting anything at all.


3) Remember, a will is about more than just money

If you have children under the age of 18, a will is essential. Why? It’s the only way to have a say in who would look after your kids if you died.

With a will, you can name guardians: people you trust to raise your children with the same care and values as you. Without one, the local council or a family court will decide for you. They might even choose someone you and your kids don’t like – like the uncle who always brings up Brexit at the dinner table.

The same goes for pets. With a will, you can choose pet guardians to look after your furry (/ scaly / feathered) friends. Without one, your pets might be left homeless. Who will scratch Fluffy’s belly when you’re gone?


4) Inheritance tax is out there … waiting …

Anything you leave to your husband or your wife in your will can’t be taken in inheritance tax.

Inheritance tax (or IHT) isn’t due on every estate. But if it is due (and property owners need to watch out here) it is taken at a rate of 40% of everything. Ouch.

With a will, you can control what your partner inherits from you – and limit how much (if any) IHT is due. They’ll also get your unused allowance, letting them pass on up to £650,000 tax-free. Win-win.

When someone dies without a will, their family loses £9,700 on average in lost assets.

5) A will can save your family a lot of worry

We often underestimate how reassuring it can be to know that a loved one’s wishes have been followed. With a will, your family can be sure that they’re doing the right thing with your legacy. It can also prevent arguments: things can be settled fairly, averting a bitter feud over who-got-mum’s-engagement-ring.

The other thing to think about is how complicated your estate likely is. Have you told your family where all your pensions are kept? What about stocks, shares – all those other little assets you pick up over time? When someone dies without a will, their family misses out on an average of £9,700 in lost assets. You can prevent this.

And don’t forget, Beyond can help

It costs just £135 for you and your partner to each make wills on Beyond. And it takes just 15 minutes to get everything sorted. No lengthy visits to a solicitor’s office, no hassle: you can do it all from the comfort of your own home.

Make your will today!

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Can you leave it all to your cat? Pet beneficiaries explained 0

A cat who has been left an estate in a will

Somewhere in Germany, there is a dog with more money than most of us could ever dream of. 

Gunther IV, the world's richest dog
The real Gunther IV at home.

Gunther IV owns property in three countries. He spends afternoons by his private pool. He summers in the Bahamas. He has a butler, and a maid, and a limo. He apparently lives with a team of supermodels.

Gunther IV has all this because German Countess Karlotta Leibenstein left her entire $80 million fortune to her dog, Gunther III. Who left it to his son.

Now, most pet owners would deem this a bit extreme. After years of letting the cat out, and in, and out again (ad nauseum), he really owes you — right?

But some of us do wonder: could I do that?


Can you leave your entire fortune to your pet(s)?

If you’re reading this in the UK, the answer is … sort of.

You can’t directly leave all your money to your cat, or dog, like you would a normal human beneficiary. In UK law, a pet is a possession, not a person (don’t look at me like that, I don’t make the rules).

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make sure your furry (or feathered, or scaly) friend will live in style without you. Here are the options.


The popular choice: Pet guardians

If you’re a parent, you can use your will to choose legal guardians for your kids, just in case. A lot of people know about this. 

Don’t forget to show the guardian your chin-scratching technique.

What they don’t know is that you can do the same thing with your pets. 

It’s a standard service we offer here at Beyond. When you make your will, you can pick someone to take in your beloved pet. Someone you trust to give them the love (and constant door opening) they need. 

You can also leave your chosen guardian funds and equipment to help them in their new role of pet-parent. After all, pets can be pricey. The lifetime cost of owning a cat is £17,000, and dogs can cost us up to £31,000 over the years.

For most people, the pet guardian option is perfect (purrfect?). It means your pet will go to a loving home, rather than a shelter. And it prevents vicious family debates over their eventual fate.

But for others, something more tail-ored is required.

On Beyond, it costs just £90 to make a will that protects your pets. That’s hundreds less than most traditional solicitors! Click here to make your will with us today.


The full-throttle option: Pet trusts

Pet trusts are relatively new to the UK, but they’re catching on fast.

A dog with money from a pet trust fund
Dogs are famously rubbish with money. Photo from Training Academy on Flickr.

A pet trust is a pot of money that can only be used to pay for your pet’s care after you die. You choose a carer, and lay out a set of things the money can be spent on (vet’s fees, food, etc.) You also choose trustees. Their job is to make sure the money is actually spent on your pet, and not on holidays in Bali. 

When your pet joins you in the great beyond, the remaining money goes to your chosen beneficiary.

Now, pet trusts can be complicated to set up. Compared to naming guardians in your will, it’s a more expensive option. But if you’re interested, we recommend talking to our complex wills team. They’ll be able to help you out.

Interested in setting up a pet trust? No problem. Call our complex wills team on 0800 054 9793.


The catch

As you can see, making sure your pet will be cared for is easy.

But if you want to leave everything to them — the whole shebang —  there can be issues. 

Basically, your disgruntled relatives can (and probably will) dispute the will. 

While they likely won’t be able to snatch the whole fortune back, they can claim “reasonable financial provision”. So, if you don’t want them to drag poor old Fluffy to court, it’s best to leave at least something to your human loved ones.


The long and short of it

So, here it is in a nutshell. You can’t bequeath your dog or cat (or lizard) money in your will. But you can appoint guardians or set up a trust for them instead.

If you do this, maybe don’t leave everything to your pets. After all, what would a dog do with all that money?

A dog whose owner left him her whole estate

Oh, right.


5 Ingenious Wills Created Mostly For Revenge 0

A skeleton takes his revenge

Death! Suffering! Elaborate old-timey insults! Sure, you can make a will for nice, kind reasons. Support your family. Choose a home for your cat. Give to charities. But why do that, when you can settle some old scores? Stay tuned for five wills that served up a revenge as cold as the grave…

1) The legacy of bitterness

Wellington boots or wellington burts
Unverified sighting of Wellington Burt in the wild.

Michigan lumber tycoon and owner of a pun-worthy name, Wellington Burt died in 1919 with a hefty fortune under his belt (or should we say, tucked into his Wellington Burts?). A multimillionaire philanthropist in life, Burt was expected to make his family and his town very wealthy indeed upon his death.

But it wasn’t to be: reputedly smarting from a nasty family spat, Burt instead left the bulk of his fortune in a trust fund, not to be opened until 21 years after the death of his last grandchild. 

As the years went by, Burt’s six children, seven grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and 11 great-great grandchildren have all died without seeing a penny. Meanwhile, the trust fund has grown to an estimated $100m. Relatives who finally inherited in 2011 described it as a “legacy of bitterness,” having watched family members pass away still fruitlessly hoping to claim that fortune.

Heinrich Heine on his deathbed
Heinrich Heine reflecting on his choices.

2) The final regret

For 15 years, German essayist and poet Heinrich Heine had a very volatile relationship with his wife, Mathilde. But when he fell ill, she stayed at his bedside to the very end – and received a somewhat ambiguous reward.

Heine left Mathilde a legacy, alright, but only if she remarried. His reasoning? “Because then, at least one man will regret my death.” Ouch.

3) The father-in-law’s revenge

Son-in-laws: can’t live with them, can’t guilt someone into putting shelves up around the house without them. In 1908, Garvey P. White’s used his will to take a parting shot at his daughter’s unfortunate husband:

“Before anything else is to be done, 50 cents is to be given to my son-in-law to enable himself to buy a good strong rope with which to hang himself, and thus rid mankind of one of the most infamous scoundrels that ever roamed this broad land or lived outside a penitentiary.”

One has to wonder what the son-in-law did to deserve it.

Bath Abbey
Not pictured: vengeful bellringers.

4) The bells, the bells

Another disgruntled husband here: Colonel Charles Nash used his will to leave an annuity of $50 to the bellringers of Bath Abbey. 

But there were conditions: the bellringers had to clang out a mournful funerary toll on the anniversary of his marriage. They also had to ring the bells merrily on the anniversary of his death – celebrating his liberation from married life.

5) The deadly legacy

In the wrong hands, a will can be a dangerous thing. One Munich-based gentleman had a seemingly harmless stipulation in his will: the wake had to be held in an upstairs room of his house. 

But when family and friends arrived and gathered around the coffin, the entire floor came down – killing almost everyone present. It later turned out that the man had painstakingly sawed most of the way through the beams of his house. Perhaps he didn’t want to be seen dead in their company.

Beyond mascot takes n otes while sitting in a chair.Make your own vengeful will today

Have your own score to settle? You can make a will today on Beyond in just 15 minutes. It costs just £90, or £135 if you and your partner would like to plan your vengeance together. Start making your will today.

Don’t forget! Pay 20% more for your vengeful will using the offer code VENGEANCEISMINE at checkout – you big meanie.