Read this blog before making a Will
Regardless of your age, we understand that nobody likes to think about Wills, but writing a Will is the very best way to protect your loved ones when you are no longer able to.
Simply, a Will is a legal document that sets out how your assets and money are to be shared out after you pass away. Many people create a Will with a private client solicitor to minimise the amount of Inheritance Tax your loved ones pay. Drafting a Will also give you the opportunity to decide what you wish to happen to any pets and your funeral plans, as well as specifying how any dependents will be looked after.
Why is making a Will so important?
Many aren’t aware that anybody who doesn’t make a Will dies ‘intestate’ which means the court decides how their estate will be shared according to the rules of intestacy, this can often mean their estate may not be shared as they might have wished.
Under intestacy, a spouse or civil partner will inherit the first £250,000 of the estate and half of the rest, and children receive the remaining half. If you have no children or young dependents, the spouse or civil partner will inherit the entire estate.
It’s important to note that when a person lives with a partner, but are not married or in a civil partnership, the surviving partner has no automatic right to inherit anything. This means that when there is no immediate family, the entire estate is divided amongst the extended family.
If children under the age of 18 lose both parents and there is no Will, the court appoints a guardian for them, so to ensure your child is looked after by who you would like, making a Will is essential.
What are the different types of Will?
There are several different types of Will, and your solicitor can advise you which one is best for you and your situation, for example:
A Single Will is for anybody who wants to record their wishes. This option is suitable for most people, whether they are in a relationship or not.
Mirror Wills are for couples who have identical wishes., meaning that when one spouse dies the estate passes to the surviving spouse, and after the surviving spouse dies the estate is shared according to the wishes specified in the Will. However, this is not always the case as either partner can change the Will at any time without any legal requirement to tell the other what they have done.
There are a few different types of Trust Wills (also known as a testamentary trust), so it’s always best to ask your solicitor to discuss whether this might be a good option for you. A Trust Will is a way of providing added protection for your loved ones as it legally entitles the appointed person to benefit from an asset without being the legal owner.
What should I consider before writing a Will?
Most people start by thinking about and writing down all their assets, this includes everything you own, such as: property, vehicles, jewelry, bank and building society accounts, bonds, insurance, stocks, and shares. It’s important to also make a note of any debts, loans, overdrafts, and credit cards you might have.
Next is deciding who you would like to benefit from your Will and how your assets will be shared amongst them. When you leave part of your assets to somebody it then becomes part of their estate and should that person divorce or become bankrupt your assets could end up in third-party hands. Your solicitor will be on hand to help you consider and discuss different possibilities.
Probate is the legal process of managing your estate when you have passed away, which is carried out by the executor/s (you can choose up to four executors) of your Will. It’s important you choose a reliable and trustworthy person/people to be your executor/s as they will be responsible for paying any bills, distributing assets and many other things. Again, this is something that is best discussed with your solicitor, they can help guide and support you to make the best decision for you and your family.
If you have children under 18 then it is vital that you appoint guardians to take on parental responsibility should you pass away. Choosing guardians can be a very difficult decision and one that may be highly emotional. We suggest considering where your child would be happiest and who would be in the best position to look after them. Make sure you speak to your chosen guardians before naming them in your Will.
Why use a solicitor to write your Will?
You do not have to use a solicitor to write your Will. You can write a Will yourself, but if you make a mistake then your Will could become invalid and even disputes after your death, causing additional legal costs and stress for your beneficiaries.
A specialist private client solicitor checks that your Will is thorough and legal and will support you to consider all possible eventualities including any foreseeable change of circumstances, including advising you about tax implications to maximise your loved ones’ inheritance. All our partner firms have Professional Indemnity Insurance which means that in the very unlikely event your Will has not been properly drafted, your beneficiaries can make a compensation claim.
If you are considering making a Will, or you have questions about Wills or the probate process, please call us today on 08082747557