The law surrounding Wills and inheritance in England and Wales is highly complex and the amount of paperwork involved can be off-putting. At Legacy Wills & Estate Planning, we believe writing something as important as a Will should be a straightforward and rewarding experience. The following is a list of questions we are asked frequently, which may help you if you are considering writing a Will, or reviewing an existing Will. You can also have a look at our Will Jargon Buster page for an explanation of any unfamiliar legal terms. If you have any further queries at all, we would be delighted to speak to you. Do get in touch with us by phone on 0345 2600600, or contact us via our online contact form.
Why Should I Write a Will?
Dying without a Will in England & Wales is known as dying “intestate”. An intestate estate will be administered in accordance with intestacy rules, and the distribution of your estate according to these rules may not necessarily be in accordance with your wishes. Getting your affairs in order before you die can often you avoid the risk of large tax bills on your estate, and can also avoid a situation where it is necessary to sell a family home to make payments to entitled relatives, in which case a surviving spouse will need to go through the stress of losing their home.
Making a Will gives you more control over what should happen to your estate when you die, and can be an important consideration where cohabiting couples are concerned, or if your separation or divorce is being finalised; or if you wish to provide for stepchildren after you die (stepchildren will not be provided for under intestacy rules). You can also leave specific gifts to named beneficiaries on your Will, as well as leaving donations to your favourite charities.
What Info Will I Need to Write a Will?
There is quite a large amount of information you need when you are drafting your Will, and it will help to have the following to hand;
Your full name and address
Any aliases you are known by
The names and addresses of your chosen executors
Full location and description of any properties owned by you
Specific wishes relating to your funeral
Names and address of all your beneficiaries
A full list of items, legacies and property your beneficiaries are to inherit
Details of any ‘residuary’ beneficiaries. The residuary estate is that which is left over after payment of any debts, expenses and after specific legacies and gifts have distributed
Details of who is to inherit should your beneficiary/ies predecease you
Details of any children who are minors at the date of your death, and who you wish their guardians to be
Who Should I Appoint as Executor?
An executor is appointed by name in a Will, and it is the duty of the executor to administer the Will. The legal responsibility falls on the executor to gather in all the assets on the estate; keep accounts of the estate of any outgoings or income; pay out debts and funeral expenses and distribute the estate in accordance with the terms of the Will.
Choosing an executor is a very important part of the Will making process. You need to choose an executor who you believe is trustworthy and you know well. You can choose more than one executor if you wish, and for the more complex, higher value estates, this is highly recommended. Three executors can be a good choice to avoid deadlock in any decision making, however, too many executors can be problematic as it can cause significant delay in the executry process if you are arranging meetings or looking for an agreement on any group decisions. It is also a good idea to appoint executors who are likely to outlive you. You should also have a discussion with whoever you wish to appoint as executor, in case they are opposed to the idea, in which case you can select someone else.
What Should I Include in my Will?
We would recommend writing a list of your entire estate (your belongings/property) before you start your Will application, and then deciding who you would like to leave each item to. You may also want to think about what should happen if a beneficiary dies before you do – and have a second (‘residuary’) beneficiary in place should this happen. The Will should also include who you wish to appoint as executor to the Will. The executor’s duty is to ensure the terms of the Will are carried out, and usually this is either a close family member or a friend, but it is also fairly common to see a solicitor or accountant appointed as executor to an estate. You can also make a statement on who will look after your children, should you die before they reach maturity, and it is a good opportunity to lay out any other wishes you may have, such as funeral or burial preferences.
When Should I Review my Will?
Once you have written a Will, it’s advisable to review it at least once every five years. There are many reasons you may want to make adjustments to your Will. You may have more children or grandchildren in the family; or the value of your home may have changed significantly, which may mean you want to rearrange your bequests. When you marry, or enter into a civil partnership, a Will is automatically cancelled where it predates the event, in which case a new Will has to be written. You should also review your Will following any significant change in your circumstances, financial or personal, particularly if you are going through a divorce or separation. Most married couples own property jointly, which means when one partner dies, the property automatically transfers to the survivor. If you divorce or separate, you may no longer wish to leave the property to your partner. You can do this by amending the ownership details of your property so that you own the property ‘tenants in common’ (separate shares) rather than jointly. Our Will & Estate Planning Consultants can advise you on the best options for you and your loved ones. Speak to our Will & Estate Planning Consultants for more information on reviewing your existing Will. Often, a codicil is all that is required (an attachment to a Will stating any amendments) but in some cases, a full re-write is recommended.
How Can I Provide for Adults with Special Needs in My Will?
Making provision for children or adults with special needs in your Will may take some consideration. For example, you may not wish your children to inherit straight away. Setting up a Trust for your child beneficiaries could be an option to consider. For adults with special needs, you may want to consider setting up a Trust so that they receive income on a regular basis, as opposed to a lump sum amount. For more on setting up trusts, go to our Trust Wills page [link] for full details.
How Much Does a Will Cost?
Planning for after you die might not be on the top of your agenda, but it could save your family from emotional difficulties caused by financial issues if you die without a valid Will. Having a professionally drafted Will is the only risk-free way to see your family is adequately provided for, and to ensure your assets are distributed in accordance with your wishes. Legacy Wills & Estate Planning make the decision to take control of your future easier for you, with our basic Will service from only £19.99, there’s no reason you can’t take steps to ensure the future of your loved ones is taken care of.
Because of the complexity of some estates, Wills can get very lengthy and detailed, especially those containing various shares, stocks, businesses or overseas property. Such Wills require a much more detailed analysis, and do take longer to arrange than a simple Will. Our bespoke and personal service will ensure you and your loved ones’ needs are fully met, and not even the smallest detail is left out. We can provide a quote for arranging your Will, give us a phone or email us via our online contact form, and one of our team will get back to you as soon as possible to discuss your personal requirements.
Why Should I Use a Will Writing Service to Make a Will?
Making a Will is a very important consideration, as any mistake could see your Will made invalid, and your final wishes replaced by intestacy rules. Although there are costs involved in using a Will service, there are many advantages to using a Will writing service, which we believe outweigh those costs in the long run. Below are some of the main reasons to consider:
Will Document Storage:
Lost, stolen or damaged Wills can cause a whole range of legal problems for your loved ones when you die. Delays in the administration of your estate, challenges in court to the validity of the Will, simply not being able to find your Will or uncertainty that the Will found is the latest copy, may mean that your estate will be distributed according to intestacy rules, and not to your own wishes. This can cause disruption in families at an already emotional time. Many people choose to keep their Will at home, where a Will can be damaged by fire, mould, water or even stolen. When you instruct a high quality Will writing service like ours, you no longer have to worry about how to keep your Will safe. We provide our clients with secure storage for their Wills. All our Will documents are stored in a fire, theft and flood proof storage system, for your peace of mind, and can be accessed within 24 hours of your request.
Inheritance Tax Planning:
A certain amount of a person’s estate, if it is valued over £325,000 (the current ‘nil rate band’ for inheritance tax), will go to inheritance tax. It is not the case, as it is often presumed, that inheritance tax problems are the reserve of the wealthy. A house, car and other possessions could easily put your estate within the inheritance tax threshold. When an individual dies, anything valued over and above the nil rate band amount will be taxed at a rate of 40 per cent. Spouses and civil partners can, however, pass assets between themselves free of inheritance tax and their allowances can effectively be transferred to double the surviving partners allowance to £650,000. With the right financial planning, practically everyone with an IHT liability should be able to reduce or even eliminate it, and pass on as much of their estate to their loved ones as possible. There are a number of different IHT planning solutions available, and our Trust & Estate Planning Consultants can advise how best to arrange your affairs.