Making a Will

A Will is a legal document outlining how you want your assets to be divided after you pass away. Making a will can be complicated depending on your circumstances, so it pays to consult with legal experts.

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What is a Will?

A Will details who you want to leave your estate to after you pass away. This will include any property you own, investments, finances and personal belongings.

Having your wishes written into a Will helps to make sure that your assets are left to the people you care about most.

There are a few different types of Wills, so you can choose the one that works best for you:

  • Single Wills
    A single Will is the best-known type of Will. It is intended to be used by one individual, and it will allow you to set out your wishes – such as who you’d like to benefit from your Will and the gifts you’d like to leave behind.
  • Mirror Wills
    If you’re married or in a civil partnership, a mirror Will could be a time-saving option for you. Mirror Wills are self-explanatory, as they allow couples to set out matching terms in each of their Wills.
  • Trust Wills
    If you’d like to leave a trust in your Will, this might be the best choice. You would need to specify in your Will who would benefit from the trust and who the trustees – the people in charge of the trust – will be. People often use trust Wills when leaving property to children under 18 who cannot yet take possession of it.

It can be difficult to know which type of Will is right for you, but this is where an experienced solicitor could help.

We would always suggest speaking to a legal professional before making a Will, as they can offer tailored advice, giving you all the information you need to make the right decision.

How to write a Will

If you’re thinking about making a Will or updating an existing one, we would suggest writing a list of all the assets you’d like to include and any outstanding debts you have. This will provide a good starting point for drafting up a Will.

You should also consider:

  • Who you would like to benefit from your Will (your beneficiaries)
  • Who you would want to take care of your children
  • Who you would like to act as an executor
  • What will happen if any of your beneficiaries die before you

By explicitly outlining what you want to happen to your estate after you pass away, you’ll reduce the chance of any disagreements arising. This will help to ease the pressure on your family at what will be a highly emotional time.

Speaking to a solicitor is the best way to make sure your Will covers all the points it needs to. It will also give you the reassurance that the document is legally binding, leaving no room for misinterpretation.

Updating a Will

Writing up a Will isn’t something you do once and leave alone. As your life changes, you’ll need to make sure that your Will still reflects your circumstances.

It’s recommended that you update your Will every five years, or after a major life event. Some of the scenarios where you may need to consider updating your Will include:

  • An executor or beneficiary of your Will passing away
  • Getting divorced or splitting up with your partner
  • Getting married (this will cancel out any existing Wills)
  • Having children
  • Moving house

There are two main methods for updating a Will: adding a codicil or writing a new document altogether.

A codicil is a legally binding document that can be added to an existing Will. It should only be used if you need to make a small change to your Will, without affecting the rest of the terms laid out. If you decide to make a codicil, you’ll need to keep it with your Will at all times to avoid it being missed.

If you have a large change to make to your Will, or multiple alterations, it might be better to write a new one. This will help to prevent any confusion for your executor when the time comes for them to carry out your wishes.

What is the cost of making a Will?

Making a Will is often an affordable way of ensuring your family is provided for after your death.

For simple Wills, prices can start from around £150. But for those that are more complex, the price can be higher. Most solicitors will offer fixed costs services, so you can choose one that will work for your budget.

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Who will carry out my wishes?

When making a Will, you’ll need to select an executor. This will be the person responsible for distributing your estate in line with the terms set out in your Will.

If you’re married or in a civil partnership, you may appoint your spouse or partner as an executor. But we would suggest choosing a second executor, too. This is because – although it’s not nice to think about – your significant other could die before your Will is executed, leaving no one to carry out these duties.

When you pass away, your executor will apply for what’s called a grant of probate. This will give them the authority to deal with your affairs, so they can begin the process of sharing out your assets.

If you die without a Will, the process will be slightly different.

What happens if I don’t have a Will?

If you die without a legal Will in place, the rules of intestacy will be applied. This means that the state will decide how your estate is distributed, which could result in some of your loved ones missing out.

Usually, the rules of intestacy will prioritise marriages and civil partnerships. If you do not have children, your entire estate will automatically go to your spouse or civil partner when you die.

If you do have children, your spouse or civil partner will receive the first £270,000 of your estate, along with your personal possessions. They will then split whatever is remaining with your children.

The rules of intestacy don’t yet recognise couples who are living together but are not married or in a civil partnership. This could mean that if you die without a Will, your partner will not be entitled to inherit anything.

Not having a Will could also lead to disputes amongst family members, who may be left feeling confused without clear instructions of what you would have wanted. This is why it’s so important that you have a legally valid Will written up.

Do you need a solicitor to make a Will?

It’s become more common in recent years for people to make Wills online through DIY websites. But there is a risk that comes with this.

For instance, if you make a mistake on your Will and there is no legal professional present to rectify it, the document could become invalid in legal terms. This might mean that the rules of intestacy are applied, creating the potential for disagreements amongst your loved ones.

Writing or updating a Will with a solicitor could help to put your mind at ease. Our Wills, Estates and probate specialists have years of combined experience, and they could help you through the process.

To find out more, give us a call on the number at the top of the screen or start your enquiry online.

Get in touch today to discuss your requirements 08005677866

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