Whether you need the peace of mind of making a first or new Will, or want to put yours or your family’s affairs in order for the future, our team are here to help.
What is a Will?
Your Will is an important document. It describes what you would like to happen to your estate following your death, and would normally cover bank accounts, investments, your home and your personal possessions as well as setting out your funeral wishes. Making a Will means sorting out your affairs is easier and clearer for your family.
Why write a will?
Creating a Will is one of the most important documents that you will sign. Without a Will, you’ll have no control over what happens to your assets when you die. The future well-being of your family may depend on you having prepared a legally valid and effective Will.
Many people think that they do not need a Will because:-
- Their “Next of Kin” will inherit their money anyway or;
- They have “nothing to leave”.
In recent years, having an up-to-date Will has become essential for anyone wishing to safeguard the interests of their family, friends and dependants. It is no longer simply a requirement for the wealthy or elderly.
Where someone dies without leaving a Will, this is called “Intestacy”. There are certain Rules (the Intestacy Rules), which define who should inherit in this situation. However, this can sometimes produce the wrong “result”. This can often happen in the case of second marriages or where someone is not married but has a partner or where they have children from different relationships.
This can cause distress to your family and can often prove expensive to try and sort out. These Rules can also mean that in certain circumstances your wife/husband only inherits part of your estate with the rest going to your children. The Intestacy Rules also determine who should inherit if you are not married and have no children.
The best way of avoiding the unintended consequences of the Intestacy Rules is to make a Will.
We have specialist knowledge of property, trusts and tax law that will benefit you in the planning and preparation for future eventualities. Our expertise will put in place a Will that best fits your particular circumstances and helps protect your loved ones.
We can help with:
- Wills for single people
- Wills for married couples / civil partners
- Wills for co-habiting couples
- Wills for divorced and separated people
- Wills for people with step families
- Wills for business owners
- Wills for beneficiaries with a learning disability
- Care home fees / estate planning Wills
We will work with you to identify whether your estate has a potential liability to Inheritance Tax. We’ll identify ways in which this could be mitigated to minimise your exposure to Inheritance Tax in the future either via your Will or through lifetime planning.
In some circumstances, reviewing and amending your Will could reduce the potential Inheritance Tax liability arising on death. It could also shelter your assets legitimately to prevent them from forming part of a future financial means tested assessment, for example for care home fees.
How often should I update my Will?
Your Will should be updated regularly enough to ensure the requests contained within it are not out-dated. How often you should update your Will is dependent partially upon whether there have been any significant changes in your life recently, and upon when you last updated your Will.
Significant life changes include: –
- Birth of a child – a child is not automatically a beneficiary of your Will so you must write them into your Will. Also when you have a child, you will be concerned about who would care for them if you died. Update your Will to include a guardian for your child.
- Adoption of a child.
- Divorce – once your divorce is finalised, your ex-spouse’s involvement in your Will is considered void if you included them in it and if they are executor of the Will, they will no longer be able to fulfil this role. Therefore you may have to update the Will to include a new executor.
- Marriage/civil partnership.
- Death of an executor.
- Separation from a long-term partner – if you have included your partner in your Will, they will not be automatically excluded from it should you separate. Ensure that you update your will accordingly.
- Moving house.
- Death of a guardian.
- Changes in your financial circumstances or changes in Inheritance Tax law – in these situations, you may need to make updates to your Will to plan for Inheritance Tax.
What will require a change to your Will is a personal matter and everyone’s circumstances are different. If you are unsure whether the change in your life should mean a change to your Will, contact us for advice.
If you have not looked over your Will in a number of years, this is another indicator that you should check to see whether it needs updating, regardless of whether or not you have experienced any of the events outlined above. As a general rule you should check your Will and consider updating it every 5 years. If your Will is not reflective of your current wishes, you should contact a solicitor to help you update it.
If your Will requires updating, you will either have to fully redraft the Will or you may be able to update it via codicil. Talk to us find out which method is appropriate for you.
Why Use A Solicitor?
Legally you don’t need to write your Will with the help of a solicitor in the same way you don’t legally need a doctor to treat an illness. However there have been many examples where people have written a Will without the assistance of a qualified solicitor and ended up with an invalid document. This can happen for a number of reasons from basic spelling mistakes and grammatical errors to failure in its execution (e.g. witnessing). Remember – solicitors are strictly regulated by the SRA and have insurance. Unregulated Will writers may not provide the same safeguards. Wills stored by solicitors can be tracked down by the Law Society, even if the solicitors close or merge with another firm.