What is a will?
A will is a record of how you want your assets to be divided after you pass away. An executor will be named, which will grant them probate – which lets them deal with a deceased person’s holdings in line with the will.
It can be simple to set up but there are some things that you should be aware of to avoid confusion and even disputes between loved ones after you pass away.
Indeed, our own research discovered one in three people felt they had been purposefully left out of a will. By planning ahead, you can avoid your family experiencing this kind of strife.
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.
- Estate and inheritance tax planning – We’ll guide you on fair, legitimate methods to mitigate inheritance or capital gains tax if you want to give money to your family during or after your lifetime.
- Living wills – We can help you draw up a living will, or ‘advance decision’. This allows you to refuse particular treatment if you become ill and can’t make the decision yourself.
- Power of attorney – Should you lose your ability to make decisions, your money and assets could be taken care of if you’ve set up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). We can help.
- Trusts – Trying to lessen the tax hit on the inheritance you leave by using a trust could mean you pay extra tax if done incorrectly. We’ll talk you through it all.
We're able to give you a free initial consultation regarding any of the above. Requesting a call back at the top of the screen will ensure that one of our legal specialists gets in touch at a time to suit you to talk through your situation with no obligation to you.
Why Choose First4Lawyers?
Why do I need a will?
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 does a will do?
A will outlines what you wish to happen with your estate and assets after you have passed away. This includes any property you own, your money and investments, and the items you own. If you don’t leave a will, the state will decide what happens with your assets, which may not be what you want.
A will also helps to make sure that your dependants – such as children – are cared for after you pass away, as well as ensuring that some of your estate is donated to organisations such as charities, if that’s what you wish.
Why Choose First4Lawyers?
We provide a friendly, approachable personal law service
We have won numerous awards for our work
We have a panel of expert solicitors who know everything about personal law
We can get in touch at a time which is convenient for you
What happens if I don't leave 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. 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.
What are the 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:
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.
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 and if it doesn’t using two different documents.
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, and a discretionary trust will gives trustees the ability to manage how potential beneficiaries benefit from a will.
While fully conscious and aware of their decisions, a living will can express your wishes should you be 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.
For more information about the best types of will for your circumstances, contact First4lawyers to speak to an experienced probate and estate planning solicitor.
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 making the will, 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 make a will?
A common misconception is that you only need to create a will once 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 making a will. 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.
I don’t have much money and I’m young – should I still make a will?
Making a will might be necessary even if you don’t have much money or many possessions and feel you’re in good health.
If you have children, you should name a person you would like to become their legal guardian if you die. If you don’t name a guardian, the courts will choose for you.
The idea that making a will is for older people is a misconception. You may believe you are too young to worry about your death, but to protect those around you it’s wise to make a will as soon as you can.
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, and so on.
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?
While you can draw up a will without the help of solicitors, it is advisable 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. And as you’ll be calling on the help of highly experienced professionals, you can be confident your wishes will have a strong legal basis.
The law surrounding inheritance – including trusts and inheritance tax – is very complex. However, our solicitors know it inside out and are here to help you make the best choices for you. For help making a will, get in touch.
The facts about wills, probate and estate planning
What would you like to know about making a will?
Can I make a will for free?
It is technically possible to make a will for free – but it is not advised. You shouldn’t write a will without investing in a will template and seeking legal advice, as the language and phrasing must be correct to ensure there is no confusion, and no room to contest the will.
Can First4lawyers help me to make a will?
Our solicitors are highly experienced in creating wills, and can help you set up a will in a simple and easy way. Contact us today and learn more about how our team of expert solicitors can help you make a will.
Can I write my own will without legal help?
Legally, you don’t need to consult a solicitor to write a will. However, a will should be written in specific, technical language to avoid disputes and confusion when you pass away. A solicitor can also help make sure you cover all possibilities and protect your estate from potential disputes.
Who do I choose as executors?
An executor will be responsible for organising your affairs and carrying out the instructions in your will, and so you should choose someone you trust completely. You can name up to four people, all of whom must be over 18. They can be related to you, be a friend, or be a professional, such as a solicitor.
Need a hand? First4Lawyers will:
Review your legal requirements for free
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Give you a competitive quote if any work needs to be paid for