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The benefits of making a Will
We help with the entire process of making a Will, from the initial planning stage through to secure storage of the legal document.
What should I put in my Will?
Executors: it will be necessary to appoint trustworthy people to deal with your assets after your death. They will be known as your Executors and can be family members, a friend or a professional. If you wish, we can act as your Executor either alone or in conjunction with a member of your family or other person of your choice
Guardians: if you have young children then it is advisable to appoint guardians who will see to their upbringing. The Will can include a provision to allow the Guardians to receive payments from the funds being held for your children to ensure that the Guardians do not suffer any financial hardship by taking on that role. The decision on whether payments are made lies with your Executors. Whilst the Guardian can also be an Executor, it is important that there is a check and balance on any payments being made – our advice is therefore to appoint separate people in these roles
Gifts: one of your most important decisions in your Will is who will inherit your assets. It is possible to make gifts of specific items such as jewellery or furniture and specific sums of money, although ultimately it will be necessary to specify who is to benefit from the remainder of your assets and in what shares. In drafting your Will, we will ensure that your intentions are clearly expressed to avoid them failing due to uncertainty and that all your assets are properly dealt with in the event that a Beneficiary dies before you
Providing for children: gifts to children involve the added issue that minors are not permitted to hold property until they attain the age of 18. Therefore we will be able to advise you on the best way of making such gifts and controlling their inheritance to include the possibility of specifying an older age such as 21 or 25. Advice can also be given on more complex issues such as providing for a disabled child or ensuring step-children are included in the terms of the Will
Inheritance Tax: you may be able to significantly reduce your liability to IHT on death by incorporating the correct provisions into your Will. Further details on this subject are available on request
Care home fees: incorporating the correct provisions in your Will can help protect your assets from the potential liability to CHFs.
Trusts: where a Trust is incorporated into your Will, either to provide for infant children or to protect assets from IHT or CHFs, then it is important that the powers given to Trustees under the general law are extended so that full use can be made of your assets after your death
What if I already have a Will?
Even if you already have a Will it is important to review it regularly to ensure that it still reflects your circumstances. Some changes in your circumstances automatically affect your Will. For example, if you have:
Married: marriage or re-marriage will always invalidate a Will, unless the Will expressly states that it has been made with the marriage in mind
Divorced: divorce will mean that your former spouse will be automatically excluded from your Will once there is a decree absolute, but not before. It is possible that he or she might still inherit under your Will, if that Will leaves your property to your children and those children (or one of them) die before you, in a common accident with you, or very shortly after you
Separated: unlike marriage or divorce, a separation will not affect your Will, so gifts to your former partner will still be valid, even after your separation
Children: unlike marriage, having children does not automatically invalidate a Will, so reviewing your Will at this time is essential
Begun living with a partner: as stated above, an unmarried partner has no entitlement to your estate if you die, so any new relationship should result in your Will being reviewed
Had significant change in the value of your personal wealth: IHT may begin to affect you in these circumstances
Why use a solicitor to draw up your Will?
Where an individual draws up his or her own Will, even using one of the DIY kits available, errors can be made, which can invalidate an entire Will. We are experts in knowing how to express your wishes in legal terms, which may have an entirely different meaning to their everyday use and can ensure that the strict rules applicable to signing and witnessing a Will are followed. In doing so, expensive delays in interpreting your Will on your death will be avoided along with the risk of the whole Will being invalid.
We can also offer advice on related matters such as IHT, protecting assets from CHFs and Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs).
What shall I do next?
Before starting to prepare your Will, you should gather together the full name (including middle name), full address (including postcode), telephone number and date of birth for all those people who may be mentioned in it.
New Wills: if you wish to make a Will then please contact us to arrange an appointment to discuss your requirements. We will take your instructions and give you advice on the best way of implementing your wishes before drawing up the Will for your approval and signature.
Existing Wills: if you wish to change an existing Will then please contact us to let us know the whereabouts of your Will and to arrange an appointment to discuss your requirements.
If the change is only a minor one then this may be effected by means of Codicil, which is a legally binding amendment to be kept with the existing Will. If more significant changes are to be made, then it is often better to have an entirely new Will drawn up.
It is extremely important that you should not make alterations to your Will just by writing in or deleting a provision. Alterations need to be witnessed in the same way as the Will itself and advice should be taken.
Storing your Will
We offer a free service to store your Will in our strong room whether you come to us to prepare it or not.