Death is something most of us would rather not think about and maybe this is why over 70% of us die without having a valid Will.
If you care about what happens to your property after you die, you should make a Will. Without one, the State directs who inherits, so your friends, relatives and favourite charities may get nothing.
It is particularly important to make a Will if you are not married to your partner. This is because the law does not automatically recognise partners as having the same rights as husbands and wives. As a result, even if you’ve lived together for many years, your partner may be left with nothing if you have not made a Will.
A Will is also vital if you have children or dependants who may not be able to care for themselves. Without a Will there could be uncertainty about who will look after or provide for them if you die.
You should also consider taking legal advice about making a Will if:
- Anyone could make a claim on your estate when you die because they depend on you financially;
- Your permanent home is not in the UK or you are not a British Citizen;
- You live here but you have overseas property; or
- You own all or part of a business
Why should I use a solicitor to make a Will?
Although it is possible to write a Will without a solicitor’s help, this is generally not advisable as there are various legal formalities you need to follow to make sure that your Will is valid. Without the help of an expert, there’s a real risk you could make a mistake, which could cause problems for your family and friends after your death.
What do I need to take into consideration before making my Will?
Once you decide that you want to make your Will, there are various matters you need to think about.
- Who do I want to appoint as my Executors?
- Do I want to give gifts of money or particular items to anyone, or make a gift of money to my favourite charity?
- Who is to inherit my estate?
- Who will look after my children?
What is Inheritance Tax?
Inheritance Tax is a Tax that you can be liable to pay on anything that your beneficiaries inherit, should the amount inherited be above a certain threshold. The rules governing this have now been altered, but in doing so been made more complicated, so it is important that the correct advice is sought.
Signing the Will
Once the will has been drawn up it is not effective until it has been signed. There are several rules affecting the signature process that, if not followed correctly, will make your Will invalid. For example, witnesses and their husbands and wives cannot benefit under the Will. For that reason many people use our staff to act as their witness.
Where will my Will be kept?
It is important that your Will is kept in a safe place and that you also tell your Executors or a close friend or relative where it is. We will be happy to store your Will for you in a fire-proof safe at no cost. At the same time we will provide you with a copy of the Will for your records.
How often should I update my Will?
Did you know that should you marry, you Will is automatically invalid? Once you have made a Will, keeping it up to date is vital to ensure it still reflects your wishes and takes into account any changes in circumstance. We would recommend that you should review your Will every three to five years. Listed below are some of the other reasons you may need to review your will:
- Getting separated, married or divorced
- Having a child, or grandchildren
- Moving house
- Financial changes
- Changes in the law
While it is possible to make minor changes (or Codicils) to your existing Will, it is best to deal with any major changes by getting a new Will drawn up.
What is an Executor?
An Executor is a person or persons who will deal with all of the paperwork after your death. Executors can ask solicitors to help them with this.
What is included in my estate?
Your estate includes all your savings, your investments, your personal possessions, your house, any life insurance policies and anything else you may own after payment of your funeral account and any debts.
I have young children, what happens to them should both myself and husband/wife/partner die?
If you die then it is usual for your spouse/partner to have parental responsibility for your children. We recommend that those with children put a guardianship clause within their Wills so that if they were to die together or within a short time of each other they have named guardians in place. If you have no such clause then Social Services will look to place children with family first and then into foster care.
If you and your spouse/partner are separated unless parental responsibility has been removed by the Courts your ex-spouse/partner would be given custody of the children.