It is estimated that at least one in three people in the UK do not have a Will and, of those that do, one in four Wills are either invalid or do not properly reflect what the person signing the Will intended.
Many people believe their estate will automatically go to the right people when they die. But if your Will is not valid, then the intestacy rules may apply and your wishes will not be carried out.
A legally drawn up Will is a written statement of your wishes which records important decisions such as:
- Who inherits your estate
- Who will act as Guardians for your children, if under age
- Who carries out your wishes (your Executors).
What Is Involved?
Making a Will need not be complicated. Our service helps you safeguard the interests of your family, friends and dependants.
We assist you in considering all the issues, which we will use to make an initial assessment of your needs. This enables us to give you the best advice in the light of your circumstances.
One of our specialist lawyers will prepare a Will that is customised for you, giving you peace of mind that the Will, once executed, is completely valid and that your wishes will be followed.
What Does It Cost?
Once you have discussed your Will requirements with us, we can give you an accurate estimate of costs – and until that stage there is no fee obligation on your part. We’re confident our expert team will deliver a value for money service through their professionalism, friendliness and ease.
What Should I Consider When Making A Will?
Step 1: Gather a rough outline of the assets you own, whether they are solely or jointly owned, the approximate value and the registered location of each.
Step 2: Your wishes are your decision – there are no rights or wrongs. Think of the future, not the here and now.
Make the big decisions first. Whom do you want to leave your estate to? If it’s to your children, at what age should they receive the capital? By law, capital goes to a beneficiary at 18, though this might be a bit young, so we often suggest 21. There are also some sound tax reasons for doing this. However, you can set it up so that funds pay for education, maintenance and general standards of living until whatever age they receive the capital.
Outline your final wishes, for example, your Will and any associated documents can set out how you want your final send-off to happen.
Don’t get too worried about executors – we can advise on the pros and cons of the choices available.
Step 3: If you have children under the age of 18, you also need to appoint guardians, in case both parents should die. Discuss this with family and friends, but we can advise you in detail on the legal and practical points to consider, as well.
Step 4: Follow it through. Many people get as far as drafting Wills – and even pay for them – but delay getting around to signing them until it’s too late.
How Often Should I Review My Will?
You should make a new Will if you have married or entered a civil partnership, or divorced, since these events revoke the original Will, which will become invalid. If you do not make a new Will, your estate will be subject to the intestacy rules and your wishes may not be carried out.
In summary, you should review your Will if:
- You marry or enter into a civil partnership
- You now have a child
- You divorce or end a civil partnership
- A beneficiary in your Will dies
- You change your name
- You are made bankrupt
- An executor dies or does not want to act
- Your financial circumstances improve and your net assets now exceed the current inheritance tax threshold
- If you need to go into a nursing or care home.
You can make minor alterations to a Will without having to make a new one by using a document called a codicil, which confirms the previous Will but allows you to make a few changes.
What Is An Advance Statement, Advance Decision Or Living Will?
An “Advance Statement” enables you to make general statements outlining your wishes and preferences about future treatment and care, for example relating to your religious beliefs.
An “Advance Decision” (formerly called a “Living Will”) is legally binding and explains to medical professionals what treatments you will accept or decline, in the unfortunate event that you become ill and are unable to communicate your exact wishes at the end of your life. It is useful if someone suffers from dementia, Alzheimers or other mental health issue.
How Can I Provide For Children?
You should consider appointing a legal guardian to look after your children if they are under the age of 18. When a parent dies, the surviving parent normally becomes the legal guardian. The exception to this is an unmarried father. Unless the mother appoints him, an unmarried father will not automatically become the guardian of his natural child on the death of the child’s mother.
Both of you may die at the same time, in which case, it would be wise to appoint another family member or close friend as a legal guardian.
Your trustees have the power to transfer money from your estate to the guardians for the maintenance, education and general welfare of your children.
Can A Will Be Disputed?
This can be a difficult and costly process but there are three grounds that can be used to dispute a Will:
- Someone financially dependent on you at the time of your death that believes that insufficient provision was made for them. This could be a child or cohabiting partner.
- Your Will was made under the influence or pressure of others, so you were coerced into making the decision you made.
- You lacked the mental capacity to make the Will or the knowledge required to approve its contents because of mental or physical illness.