It’s not just having a Will that matters, it’s having a Will free from loopholes that is crucial, whether your desire is to distribute your estate after your death, to save your beneficiaries from paying unnecessary levels of inheritance tax, or to leave a sum of money to your favourite charity. Remember, anyone can challenge your Will.
We can prepare for you:
- Simple Wills
- Mirror Wills (normally for married couples or civil partners where the terms of the two wills ‘mirror’ each other in terms of beneficiaries and legacies)
- Children’s Will Trusts (A trust drafted into a Will which places money left to a child under 18 in the care of trustees until the child is old enough to look after their gift)
- Property Will Trusts (A trust drafted into a Will which passes property to nominated beneficiaries but allows someone to occupy the property while they need to)
- Life Interest Will Trusts (A trust drafted into a Will which passes money to nominated beneficiaries but allows someone to take income from the money while they need to)
- Life Interest Will Trusts with Loan (A trust which allows money to be lent to someone which is then repaid from their estate to nominated beneficiaries)
- Discretionary Will Trusts (A trust drafted into a Will which allows trustees to decide whom of a group of named beneficiaries can inherit, when, and by how much)
- Lasting Powers of Attorney – Property and Affairs or Personal Welfare
- Advance Decisions
For further information and to book an appointment contact:
All appointments are carried out in the comfort and privacy of the client’s own home at a time to suit them.
Why make a will?
People who do not have Wills die ‘intestate’ and the Law will decide who inherits their property. Without a Will:
- Your spouse will not necessarily inherit your entire estate;
- Some of your estate could pass direct to your children adversely affecting the inheritance tax position for your surviving spouse;
- Your children would receive their inheritance at age 18. Would they be old enough to manage this?
- If your children are under 18 you would not have the choice of who looks after your assets on their behalf;
- If you are not married and do not have any children your estate will be divided up between your remaining relatives, such as parents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles;
- If your marriage has failed, but your divorce is not finalized, your former spouse could still automatically benefit from your estate;
- Having a Will is the only way to ensure that the people you choose deal with your affairs and inherit your estate;
- If your estate exceeds the inheritance tax threshold there could be tax to pay on assets that do not pass to your spouse;
- With careful planning it is possible to protect part of your property against local authority means testing assessment in the event of you requiring long term residential or nursing care;
- Your family may need to pay professionals to sort out the mess. Their fees could be such that they actually benefit financially more than your family does.
Who needs a will?
Putting it simply everybody needs a Will.
For a Will to be legal, the person making the Will (the testator) must be over the age of 18, the Will must be in writing and must be signed by the testator in the presence of two independent witnesses who also need to sign in the presence of each other and in the presence of the testator.
A Will needs to be written in such a way so that people reading it are clear about your intentions and your wishes are beyond doubt.
If you have specific wishes about who should deal with your affairs and who should benefit from your hard work, writing a will is the only way to ensure that this happens.
When should you consider writing or reviewing your will?
As soon as you have any assets that you want to ensure go to your chosen beneficiaries.
Whenever your circumstances change :
- When you get married or enter into a civil partnership
- When you move house
- When you have children
- When your children get married and have children of their own
- If you separate from your partner
- If you inherit from relatives or friends
Some legal terms that may be used when drafting your Will:
- Beneficiaries –The people or organisations who will receive something from your Will
- Bequest –A gift of money or item(s) of your property which you leave to someone in your Will
- Estate –Everything that belongs to you at the time of your death
- Executor –The person(s) you appoint to carry out your wishes as stated in your Will
- Guardian –The person(s) you appoint to look after your children if they are under the age of 18 at the time of your death
- Intestate –The term used when a person dies without leaving a Will
- Legacy –A gift of money or item(s) of your property which you leave to someone in your Will
- Probate –The process where your Will is legally validated. Your Executor(s) need to obtain a grant of probate before they can distribute your estate as you have instructed
- Residue –The remainder of your estate after all debts, taxes, expenses and specific gifts have been paid
- Trustee –A person(s) who is appointed by you to look after assets on behalf of certain beneficiaries (usually children)
- Witnesses –The people who are present when you sign your Will, they will have to see you sign your Will and must sign in your presence to this effect. They must not be anybody who is named in the Will as an executor, trustee or beneficiary nor can they be married to anybody named in the Will
Executors & Trustees
Executors are the people appointed in your Will who will deal with your financial affairs after your death:
- They will need to locate the Will. It makes sense to tell your executors that they are the executors, where the Will is being kept and ensure that they can get quick access to it.
- They will need to locate your assets – including bank and building society account, life insurance policies, etc. It makes sense to compile a list and keep it up to date.
- They will need to distribute any items in accordance with any directions in your Will, and then sell the rest.
- They will need to distribute the cash in accordance with the instructions in your Will.
- When money is being left to children under the age of 18 it will be held in Trust by Trustees who are appointed in your Will.
- The Executors will normally continue to act as your Trustees although if you prefer you can appoint different people in each of these roles.
There are options that can be detailed in your Will that will govern the way the Trust is set up and run:
- At what age the children receive the Trust Fund.
- When and under what circumstances, money being held in the Trust Fund can be used for children’s benefit.
- Whether money can be made available for Guardians.
You can choose what powers the Trustees have (and don’t have) while they are looking after the Trust Fund.
In choosing Executors and / or Trustees you should consider:
- Age – will they be able to cope with the work involved in realising your estate? Are they likely to survive to the end of the Trust? Once the appointment takes effect, the Trustees will be able to appoint new Trustees to take over from them.
- Location – will they be able to deal with the logistics of selling and /or clearing the house, for example?
- Finances – do they have the skills to look after and invest a potentially large sum of money? They will be able to take expert advice but will still need to make decisions based on that advice.
- Moral issues – do the Trustees have the same outlook on life as you? Will they ensure that your money is spent on your children in a manner similar to your own?
Looking after what is most valuable – your children
Everyone who has children under 18 should appoint Guardians to look after their children in the event of their untimely death. For this reason it is more important that parents of young children make a Will than elderly people.
Guardians are appointed by someone who has parental responsibility for a child – and the appointment passes on parental responsibility.
The birthmother always has parental responsibility. The father only has parental responsibility in the following circumstances:-
- If he was married to the birth mother at the time of the birth – or subsequently marries her.
- If he was awarded parental responsibility either through a parental responsibility agreement with the birth mother, or through a court order.
- If the child was born after 1 December 2003 and he is named on the child’s birth certificate.
Unmarried fathers of children born before 1 December 2003 do not therefore automatically have parental responsibility. If the birth mother wants the natural father to look after their child after her death, she must name him as a Guardian in her Will.
If everyone who has parental responsibility has died, the local authority will have parental responsibility and be responsible for care of the child – which may be with relatives, or foster carers or in a residential home.
Guardians will be responsible for looking after children until they become 18. In choosing Guardians you should consider:
- Age – will they be able to cope with bringing up very young children or be able to control children in their teenage years?
- Location – will your children have to move school and be separated from their friends?
- Finances – will they be able to accommodate your children? Trusts can be set up in your Will to provide income and capital for your children’s benefit. Further provisions can be made for Guardians.
- Religious / moral issues – do the Guardians have religious or other beliefs that are compatible with the upbringing that you would like your children to have?
For further information and to book an appointment please get in touch.
Costs for Wills
|Individual Simple Will||£150|
|Mirror Simple Wills (for Couples)||£250|
|Severing a Joint Tenancy for Inheritance Tax and Care Fee planning||£120|
|Incorporating a Discretionary Trust into the Will||£99 Single £180 Mirror|
|Incorporating a Life Interest Trust into the Will||£120 Single £200 Mirror|