Will Writing Service
A Will - it’s probably not something you’d want to think about - but making sure your estate goes to the right people is important for most clients.
What’s a Will?
Your Will is a legal document that provides instructions when you die. These instructions are needed to say where your assets are to go and also for more practical matters. You can write as many Wills as you like over your lifetime, it’s only the most recent one you wrote and signed before your death that’s valid.
If you don’t have a Will when you die, your assets are distributed by the laws of intestacy.
This works by looking at your next of kin, so if you’re married with no children, your partner receives everything, if you have children your partner receives the first £250,000 plus possessions and half of the remainder. Your children will receive the rest.
If you’re not married but do have children, everything passes to your children equally. If you don’t have children it goes to your nearest living relative in order of your parents, then your brothers and sisters, then grandparents, then aunts and uncles. If there’s no living relatives everything passes to the crown.
So why do a Will?
The first thing to realise about a Will is that you’re not doing it for yourself, you’re doing it for your family, who have the responsibility of dealing with your estate and implementing decisions when you’re gone. So a Will helps make it clear who you want to be the executor and administrator of your estate – if you don’t instruct this in your Will, your family must work it out between themselves. This can lead to arguments, mistrust and fall-outs even in the tightest knit families, especially when people are grieving and may not be thinking clearly.
If the past 12 months have reminded us of anything, it is that we have no control over when we die or what our cause of death might be.
When a person dies in England and Wales without leaving a valid Will, the order in which their estate passes is governed by the rules of intestacy. Unfortunately, these were set out in the Administration of Estates Act 1925, which is not particularly helpful in today’s society as unmarried partners do not inherit under the rules.
The vast majority of people put off making a Will for a variety of reasons, either believing that the people they would wish to inherit will automatically do so, or because they don't think it is relevant to them at this particular time. The reality is that you can put off making a Will until it is too late and this poses all sorts of problems for the people left behind and could mean that some, or all of your inheritance, either goes to the wrong person or to the state.
6 Reasons To Consider:
- It makes probate easier – if you have a Will the process of probate is much simpler and easier. Probate is the legal process of dealing with the estate of someone who has died. Without a Will it takes time and hassle. Why would you want to make it harder for the people you love?
- It's the easiest place to leave funeral instructions – it’s helpful to tell your family how you want to be laid to rest. If you don’t they have to argue between themselves. Aunty Irene thinks you should be buried in a certain ceremony, but your wife is pretty sure you want to be cremated. Uncle Bob thinks it should be a religious service, but your kids think otherwise. It all gets very messy very quickly, again, at a time when people are least able to cope.
- You can do some sensible planning to make sure you don’t disinherit your children accidentally by allowing your money to be used to fund your surviving partner’s care fees unnecessarily.
- Depending on how your home is owned between you and your partner, it allows your partner to keep living there.
- If you have an estranged spouse they come top of the list of beneficiaries if you don’t leave a Will. So, if your marriage has broken down but no divorce has been finalised, your surviving spouse, now your ex, might inherit your estate.
- To prevent your spouse’s future partner from inheriting your money – it can be easy to disinherit the people you care for the most, or who need your estate the most. If you die intestate while married, your estate passes to your spouse. If they remarry and subsequently die intestate, the estate, which would include yours, will pass to their new spouse, who may pass it on to their own children rather than yours.
- To appoint guardians for your children – If your children are under 18 you need to decide who’ll care for them if you die and make that nomination in your Will. Without it, social services may invite applications from your wider friends and family, which may bring someone forward you wouldn’t have chosen.
Ultimately, doing a Will and making sure you don’t die intestate is a good idea for the family you leave behind. It not only makes sure your assets are given to the right people, but that whatever arrangements you’d like are taken care of, alongside preventing any situations that might disinherit your children or other loved ones.
Property Not Jointly Owned
Unless you own a property jointly with another person, making a will ensures that your property, along with any other assets in your sole name, will pass onto your chosen recipients such as family, friends, or organisations such as charities.
Getting Married and Getting Divorced or Separated
Given that more people are marrying in their late 30s, they may well have already written a Will before they tied the knot. Marriage automatically invalidates an existing Will unless it was prepared in anticipation of that marriage - so a new Will will be needed after getting married.
While a Will remains valid if you get divorced after it was made, your ex-spouse will be treated as if they had died before you and will no longer act or benefit under your will. It’s therefore advisable to review your Will and write a new one.
Things get a little more complicated if you separate but remain married, and it is important to discuss any existing Will or making a new Will in this situation.
In any event, Wills should be reviewed at least every five years to ensure they remain aligned with your wishes and continue to be valid.
We offer expert advice on Wills, drafting them for clients around their own personal circumstances. Each plan is drafted to make sure that our clients' estates pass only to their chosen beneficiaries and avoid many common pitfalls or mistakes that could cost money or create further heartache for those left behind.
We believe that good legacy planning is about getting good advice, considering everything that could affect your wishes, and being aware of all your options so that you can make your own informed choices.
If you think you’ll have to pay inheritance tax on your estate, there are legal ways to reduce the amount that may be due. It’s a good idea to get advice on this.
An executor makes sure the terms of your will are carried out. You could invalidate your will if you don’t use the correct wording. We use our expertise and experience to write Wills that comply with the legalities required.
We are also able to help our clients with other legal matters such as Lasting Power of Attorney.
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Please note: Tax and estate planning services are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Ian is a fully qualified member of the Personal Finance Society, since 1994. He has built his expertise with numerous qualifications and professional development each year.
Ian Francis is a fully qualified member of the Society of Later Life Advisers, having demonstrated his professionalism in giving advice for those clients looking to the future and undertaking professional qualifications, as an independent financial adviser.
Ian is also a fully qualified member of the Society of Later Life Advisers retirement advice standard. He has built his expertise with numerous qualifications and professional development each year.
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Main office address:
10 Newark Road,
Lincoln, LN5 9HA
The guidance and/or advice contained within this website is subject to the UK regulatory regime and is therefore targeted at consumers based in the UK.
Chestnut Financial Services Limited. Registered in England no 9918363. Registered office: Commerce House, Carlton Boulevard, Lincoln, LN2 4WJ
Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority No. 840940