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 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 what you own – your property, investments, finances and belongings – to after you pass away. It ensures that your assets are left to the people you care about.

When making a Will, you’ll need to select an executor. If you’re married or in a civil partnership, you may want to appoint your spouse or partner. However, it is advisable not to appoint them as your only executor as there is the risk of you both dying at the same time – leaving you without an executor to your Will. You should also therefore appoint a substitute executor.

You’ll also need to decide what you will leave to who. You may choose to leave your estate to your partner, children, family, friends or charity. You can also use your Will to express your wishes for your funeral, as well as whether you wish to be buried or cremated.

When there are such high stakes involved, it is a good idea to get help from an experienced solicitor.

How to write a Will

There are many aspects to consider when it is time to write a Will. What assets to include, which of your family and friends you will leave your estate to, who will have responsibility for your children – if necessary – all need to be included in a Will.

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

For your Will to be legally valid, you need to be over the age of 18, to consent to will writing and be of sound mind. The Will itself must be a written document.

Once you’ve established what will go to who, you will need to get your Will witnessed by two independent witnesses. There are specific rules around who can witness a Will.

Your witnesses cannot also benefit from any inheritance in your Will, so they cannot be beneficiaries. They don’t necessarily have to read your Will but must watch you sign the document and then sign it themselves.

Updating a Will

Once you’ve written your Will, you might think it’s done for good then. However, it is a document that will need continual revisions as your life changes.

If your circumstances change significantly in the future – for example, you get married or divorced, you have children or purchase a new property – you should review your Will. You should also revise your Will if your chosen executor dies.

Changes to your circumstances can make part or all of your existing Will invalid, so it pays to keep it updated.

How much does it cost to make a Will?

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

Solicitors typically offer Will writing on a fixed fee basis. This usually costs between £144 and £240 for a simple Will. A more complex Will can cost between £150 and £300 and could be due to circumstantial changes, such as divorce.

Some people will require specialist Wills, which can involve factors like trusts and overseas properties. These can cost up to £600.

Different types of Will

Understanding which type of Will is best for you can be tricky, which is why it’s a good idea to speak to a solicitor. Broadly speaking, the types of Will available are:

Single Wills

A single Will is the best-known type of Will. The Will details the wishes of the individual, including gifts and their chosen executor, which has been decided by them in full consciousness of their decisions.

Mirror Wills

This is used when there’s a possibility you believe you may outlive one of the people named in the Will. A mirror Will accounts for if that happens as well as if it doesn’t using two different documents. For example, your Will could set out that you want to leave your estate to your partner, while your partner’s Will states that they want to leave their estate to you.

Trust Wills

There are different types of trust Will. A Property Trust Will helps you specify how a property you own is taken care of, a flexible life interest trust Will lets you say where you may want one person to access to an asset but someone else to own it. Meanwhile, a discretionary trust Will gives trustees the ability to manage how potential beneficiaries benefit from a Will.

Living Wills

A living Will can help you express your wishes while fully conscious and aware of your decisions in the event you are unable to in the future due to injury, illness, or any other factor. These are not legally binding, but they are generally taken into careful consideration by doctors and solicitors, should you have specific wishes for your care and wellbeing.

Wills and probate

Probate refers to obtaining the right to deal with the affairs of someone who has just passed away. In other words, it is the process of becoming the executor.

If a Will exists, the executor can then deal with the deceased person’s estate in accordance with it. However, if there is no Will, the state decides what happens to it. The decisions taken may not be what the deceased person wanted.

The only way to ensure your wishes are adhered to when you pass away is to have a legal Will in place. This will eliminate any confusion about your estate and clarify who receives which asset.

It is highly advisable to never store your Will in a safety deposit box as the bank is unable to open the box until your executor obtains probate but they cannot obtain probate without a Will. Rather, keep a copy somewhere safe and leave another with your solicitor so it is easily accessible after your death.

Wills and probate can be a complicated area, but the right solicitor can make the process more straightforward.

What happens if I don’t have a Will?

In the event you don’t have a legal Will in place when you pass away, the situation becomes more complex. And this will complicate things for a vast number of people. Insurance provider Royal London has found that 54% of UK adults do not have a Will.

Known as dying intestate, dying without a will means your entire estate will go to your spouse or civil partner, according to UK law. However, if you’re not married or in a civil partnership, your estate will go to other members of your family. If you have a partner, they will not receive anything.

It isn’t as simple as that appears, however. Exactly what is given to who depends on the value of your estate. If it is more than £250,000, it depends on whether you have any surviving relatives, including parents, children, siblings or grandchildren.

If you die without a Will and with no close relatives, your whole estate will be passed on to the government. This is known as bona vacantia.

A lack of legal Will could lead to inheritance disputes among family members – which can often end up going to court. In fact, the current rise in inheritance disputes is being blamed on DIY Wills, which can feature errors and omissions. No one’s circumstances are exactly like anyone else’s so in order to ensure your Will is legally valid when the time comes, it is highly advisable to consult with a professional.

I want to make a Will – what do I do?

Making a Will is a relatively simple process. To gain the peace of mind that comes with having a Will in place if the worst should happen, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with the right solicitor to help you create the Will you want.

Either request a callback at the top of the screen or fill out our online form and we’ll get back to you at a convenient time.

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