Writing a Will
The law surrounding Wills and inheritance in England and Wales is highly complex, and the amount of paperwork involved can be daunting. At Legacy Wills & Estate Planning, we believe that writing something as important as a Will should be a straightforward and rewarding experience. Our professional Will & Estate Planning Consultants can take care of all the legal documents and paperwork required and also provide guidance on careful estate planning, as well as the best options available to your individual needs. Legacy Wills & Estate Planning make the process simple, giving you the peace of mind in knowing that your affairs are taken care of. If you wish, you can begin writing your Will online, over the phone or in person, whichever you prefer. The information you provide will then be used to draft the Will in accordance to your wishes. We offer a truly bespoke service, completely tailored to your individual needs.
The Will Writing Process
Before you begin writing your Will, there are a few important things to decide upon, such as who you wish to be the executors of your estate (see our Making a Will page for details on the role of an executor), and depending on the level of the Will you have purchased, appointing a guardian to any children you have under eighteen, how you wish to distribute your residuary estate, or any specific gifts you would like to leave. We usually encourage clients to review their Wills as and when their circumstances change. We appreciate circumstances are constantly changing, with Legacy Wills & Estate Planning, amending and updating your Will further down the line is an easy and simple process.
Writing a Will: What Info Will I Need
Writing a Will is a simple process, however there is some important you need to have to hand when you are drafting your Will. It will help to have these ready and available to refer to:
- An understanding of where you would like your estate to go (who your beneficiaries are)
- An awareness of the value of your estate (property, savings, personal possessions)
- Names, DOB’s and addresses of beneficiaries and executors
What Should I Include in my Will?
Legacy Wills & Estate Planning are available to advise and assist you where needed, however, we recommend writing a list of your residuary estate (your belongings and property) and deciding who you would like to leave each item to before you begin your Will application.
You may want to think about what you wish to happen should a beneficiary die before you do, and have a second, “residuary”, beneficiary in place. The Will should also include who you wish to appoint as Executor of your Will.
When Should I Update my Will?
Once you have written your Will, it is advisable to review it at least once every five years or if any of your circumstances change. There are many reasons you may want to make adjustments to your Will, such as the arrival of a new child or grandchild, the value of your house changing significantly or when you enter a marriage or civil partnership (as any Will attested prior to this will be revoked and need to be re-written after a union). You also need to bear in mind that should you go through a separation or divorce, your Will may need to be amended, as many couples own property jointly. Should you die, property automatically passes to the survivor, who can then do as they please with it, including leaving it to their own families in their Wills, which you may not wish for if you are separating. Your Will needs to be revised following any significant change in your circumstances, financial or personal.
Will Writing Services
We offer our clients a flexible approach to Will writing. Whilst the law surrounding Wills and inheritance may be complex, the process of completing a Will shouldn’t be. Legacy Wills & Estate Planning have a range of ways to make contact with us, either by email, post or telephone, and in some circumstances we even offer the service of visiting you in your own home. Once you have provided all the information we need, we will draft your Will, leaving you to simply check over the document and sign.
Why Is It Important To Write Your Own Will?
If a person dies without leaving behind a valid last Will and testament, then there is a strong possibility that everything owned by that person passes onto the state rather than the beneficiaries they want to leave it to. In such a scenario, the estate of the deceased person will be distributed as per the rules of intestacy.
For example, if you die without making provisions for people who are financially dependent on you (spouse, children etc.), then the rules of intestacy stipulates who inherits from your estate which in certain scenarios could lead to your dependents receiving nothing at all from your estate.
So, unless a valid Will is made, the rules of intestacy will determine who inherits from your estate and also to what extent they inherit from your estate.
Thus, the provisions provided to your beneficiaries from your estate through the rules of intestacy could be markedly different from your own wishes unless you leave behind a valid last Will and testament.
Also, if a person dies without leaving behind a last Will and testament and if the deceased had no relatives beyond the group specified by the rules of intestacy, then the entirety of their estate will be inherited by the state.
Certain eligible people are entitled to challenge the rules of intestacy through the Inheritance Act Of 1975, if insufficient financial provision is provided to them, such as:
- The wife, husband or civil partner of the deceased.
- The ex-wife, husband or civil partner of the deceased who have not yet remarried or who are not in another civil relationship.
- Co-habitees i.e. someone who lived with the deceased for a minimum of two years before their death.
- A child of the recently deceased person.
- A person who was treated as a child of the recently deceased person.
- Someone who was being financially supported by the deceased.
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Why It Is Advantageous To Write Your Own Will
There are many advantages of writing your Will online such as:
The Possesions Of Your Estate Are Distributed As Per Your Wishes
If you pass away without drafting a Will, your estate will be distributed as per the rules of intestacy. This means that some portion of your estate will automatically be transferred to your spouse or children. But, the valuation of your assets distrubted will depend on the worth of your property and the terms specified in the title deeds. By writing your own Will, you can ensure that your property is distrubuted exactly how you want it to be.
The Power To Appoint An Executor Or/And Trustee And Outline Their Powers
To ensure that the contents of your Will are carried out to the letter, you can select an executor or trustee in your Will. By doing this, you can rest easy in the knowledge that the terms specified in your Will will be honoured after you pass away.
Designate A Guardian To Take Care Of Minor Children
If you are the parent of minor children, then it is important to remember that a Will acts as guiding legal document for the care of your children, if both you and your spouse pass away.
State Your Funeral Wishes
You can reduce any stress for your loved ones and ensure that your body is taken care of in the manner of your choosing (e.g. cremation or burial) by stating your wishes in the Will.
Accelerate the Legal Procedure
By writing your own Will, you make the process of settling your estate less costly and faster. By reducing the amount spent on legal fees, you can protect the value of your estate that is to be passed on to your beneficiaries.
Very helpful, courteous and efficient - just what I wanted I did not want to be talked down to, or told what to do - and they were just what I was looking for - professional and efficient
The team at legacy wills have been very helpful and extremely courteous when talking through the full process with me. Would highly recommend.
I found the advisor extremely helpful, explaining clearly any points which I was unsure about. I received my Will some days later and was pleased that the company followed up to check that I was happy with it. I did not feel pressured in any way and I would recommend this company to anyone wishing for a straightforward and efficient service.
Legacy wills explained every step very clearly and anything you forgot to ask they encouraged you to contact them, they also made you feel that no question was to big or small they would always find the answer.
How to Make a Valid Will?
For a Will to be valid:
- It should be made in writing, signed by the testator (person making the will) and witnessed by two people.
- The testator should have the mental capacity to make the Will and also to understand the effects of the will.
- The testator should have drafted the Will voluntarily without any external influence or coercion.
When Are Beneficiaries Not Entitled To the Bequests Made To them in the Deceased’s Will?
In certain scenarios beneficiaries cannot inherit from the estate of the deceased, such as:
- If the beneficiary was also one of the witnesses to the Will or the spouse/civil partner of the witness, then the Will remains valid but the beneficiary does not inherit anything.
- The spouse or registered civil partner of the deceased stops being a beneficiary if they have divorced, unless the Will states to the contrary. However, if a couple separate without getting a divorce, then the spouse remains a beneficiary.
- If the Will states that the beneficiary is the intended recipient of a particular property, but the property does not belong to the estate of the deceased person anymore, then the beneficiary does not inherit anything.
What Happens If The Beneficiary Of The Estate Dies Before The Testator?
If a beneficiary dies after the Will was made but before the death of the testator, then the beneficiary’s estate will not inherit from the estate of the testator of the will.
If the death of the beneficiary precedes that of the testator, then the benefit is said to have lapsed. Dependents of the beneficiaries are not legally entitled to anything unless for the following exceptions:
- If a provision is made in the Will for a child or other lineal descendents of the testator, then the benefit will not lapse as long as the deceased beneficiary leaves behind children who were alive at the time of the testator’s death. However, this rule will not apply if the gift is life interest.
- If the testator has made substitute provisions in the Will then the benefit will not lapse. For example, if the testator makes the provision ‘such of my children as are alive at my death’ in the Will, then estate will be distributed amongst surviving children of the testator.
What Happens If The Beneficiary Of The Estate Dies After The Testator?
In certain scenarios a gift made by the testator in the Will might be subject to certain conditions, if the beneficiary does not fulfil those conditions, then the estate of the beneficiary will not inherit from the Will.
For example, if the testator has left a gift to a child/grandchild who can be inherit only after they reach a certain age. But if they die before reaching that age, then the beneficiary’s estate does not inherit anything.
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What Happens If The Executor Of A Will Dies?
If an executor of the Will dies before the testator and if other executors are named by the testator in the Will, then the responsibility of administrating the estate will be passed onto the other executors appointed by the testator.
However, if the other executors are unwilling to take on the responsibility of administrating the estate, then a beneficiary of the estate can apply to be the personal representative of the estate.
If appointed, the personal representative will discharge all the responsibilities that were previously being handled by the executor in administrating the estate of the deceased.
These responsibilities include:
- Finding all the relevant financial documents owned by the deceased.
- Sending out a copy of the deceased person’s death certificate to all the financial organisations in which the deceased held money.
- Confirming the date of death value of all the assets owned by the deceased.
- Opening a bank account on behalf of the estate.
- Paying off any outstanding debts owed by the deceased person.
- Finding out the amount of inheritance tax owed by the estate and then paying them off.
- Compiling all the requisite documents that are required to be submitted at the probate registry and HM revenue and customs.
- Collecting money belonging to the estate in insurance companies, banks, building societies and pension funds after the grant of probate or letters of administration has been obtained.
- Distributing all the assets in the estate as specified in the Will or as per the rules of intestacy.