Writing or updating a Will

A Will is a legal document outlining how you want your assets to be divided after you pass away. This includes any property, items you own, your money and investments.

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What is a Will?

A Will is a legal document outlining how you want your assets to be divided after you pass away. This includes any property, items you own, your money and investments.

It can help to ensure that your estate goes to the people you care about, such as your children, for example. It also gives you the option to donate some of your estate to charity, if that’s what you wish.

An executor will be named, which will grant them probate. This lets them deal with a deceased person’s holdings in line with the Will. If you don’t leave a Will, the state will decide what happens with your assets, which may not be what you want.

Will writing can be simple but there are some things that you should be aware of to avoid confusion, and even disputes, between loved ones after you pass away.

The specialists at First4Lawyers are here to help ensure that your wishes are binding in UK law, that your estate is shared exactly how you want and to give you the chance to ensure everyone is taken care of.

Why should I think about Will writing?

You’ve spent your life working to provide for yourself and your family so it’s important to ensure your loved ones get the personal and financial support they need after you’re gone.

You may have a house, savings, shares, investments and a host of other personal possessions, all of which are part of your 'estate'. Making a Will ensures that when you die, your estate will be shared according to your wishes.

A Will may also help to minimise Inheritance Tax; which is payable by your estate if its value comes to £325,000 or more.

What happens if I don't have a Will?

If you pass away without leaving a Will, then you die 'intestate’. As a result, your estate will be shared in line with the rules of intestacy.

It means that only married or civil partners and some other close relatives can inherit under the rules of intestacy.

This will also be the case if you leave a Will but it is invalid.

What should I put in my Will?

We have a guide that covers everything you need to know about how to make a Will, but in brief your Will should set out the following terms:

  • The people (or entities, such as charities) you want to benefit from your Will and in what ways.
  • Who you want to carry out your wishes and deal with your estate after your death (your executor).
  • What happens if the people you want to inherit your estate die before you do.

Are there 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 professional 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
    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.
  • 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 well-being.

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How do I make sure my Will is legally binding?

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

Finally, you must sign the Will in front of two witnesses over 18. They also need to sign the document in your presence. If you add any terms or make changes to your Will, you must follow the same process.

When should I think about Will writing?

A common misconception is that you only need to start thinking about Will writing when you are older. In fact, there is no wrong time to create a Will, and you generally are never too young to do so.

If you’re over the age of 18, you should at least consider Will writing. If you meet any of the following criteria, it is highly recommended you write a Will, whatever your age:

  • If you own property
  • If you run a business
  • If you have children or dependants (such as siblings who rely on your income)
  • If you are married, or have been married

Can a Will become outdated?

The government advises you to review your Will at least every five years, and after any major life event or change. This can include separating from your spouse, having children, getting married, moving to a new house, if your executor dies, among others.

Life changes, and so do your circumstances. Reviewing your Will regularly ensures old wishes are changed and adapted to reflect your current situation.

Do I need legal advice to make a Will?

While you can draw up a Will without the help of solicitors, it is advisable that you seek professional advice.

Here at First4Lawyers, it is our job to make sure the complicated bits are done for you and to make certain you’re properly protecting your interests after you’re gone. 

The law surrounding inheritance – including Trusts and Inheritance Tax – is very complex. But our solicitors know it inside out and are here to help you make the best choices for you. For help making a Will, just get in touch.

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