FAQs Will Writing
Everyone needs to make a Will. It lets you say what you want to happen to any money, property or possessions you might have when you die. It doesn’t matter if you don’t think you have much to leave others. A Will allows you to say what you want to happen to your estate. If you don’t make a Will and you die, then you are said to have died intestate. If this occurs, there are rules set out in law about who inherits your estate. Making a Will allows you to:
Say what should happen to your assets – With a Will, you say who should benefit from your estate. If you don’t have a Will and die intestate, your estate might go to someone whom you did not want to receive anything. Equally, it’s possible that your estate might end up going to the Crown.
Protect unmarried partners – Unmarried partners (‘common-law partner’) have little if any protection in law when it comes to inheritance. Having a Will is vital if you want to make sure that they are taken care of when you’re gone.
Personal effects. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a lot of money or property to pass on. You can still make a Will that lets you leave important personal effects to certain people.
Say what you want to happen to your children – Making a Will is essential if you have any children. It means that you can say specify who you want to look after them when you die.
Also, making a Will gives you the chance to say what your funeral wishes are. By not making a Will it will likely mean that your loved ones have the cost and stress of trying to sort out your estate.
No, however, it is often easier and quicker to discuss making your Will face to face and we come to you at home . We recognise that people lead busy lives and may not be able to go into an office during the day. Depending on whom you instruct, it may be possible to arrange an evening or weekend appointment. Alternatively, it may be possible to visit you in your home. If a face to face meeting is not possible, there are other options. It may be possible to arrange a telephone call to discuss your requirements. Since there are a variety of options available, there’s no reason to put off making a Will.
If you don’t have a Will when you die, it means that you are said to have died Intestate. It means that you don’t have any control over your estate and how you want it shared out. What happens is set out in law. For example, the surviving partner of an unmarried couple would not receive anything. Equally, any step-children would also lose out on getting anything. A part or all of your estate could end up going to someone whom you would not wish to benefit. The only way that you can make sure that what you want happens is by making a Will .
Yes. If you have trouble seeing, there are different options available to you. For example, the documents can be read to you or arrangements made to produce documents in braille. Whatever your situation it is worth getting in touch to discuss your requirements and the options open to you.
When you make a Will the first thing that you need to do is say who you want your Executors to be. Their job is to sort out your estate and fulfil your wishes. Your executor doesn’t have to be a solicitor. It can be a family member or a friend. They can be one person or more than one person. You then need to list in your Will what money, property and positions you have. These are your assets and make up what is known as your estate. Knowing what your estate is, you can say who you want to inherit – your beneficiaries. If you have any children under 18, you should detail what arrangements need to be made after your death to look after them. Finally, you can list any other wishes you have. For example, this can set out what your preferences are for your funeral.
While it’s possible to write your own Will, they’re not always suitable. Even if things are clear-cut, there is still a chance for errors to occur. If there are errors, it can potentially make the Will invalid. Because of this, the courts might disregard it, and your estate treated as if you died without making a Will – Intestate. Your wishes would not apply, and your assets would not go to whom you want. Trying to fix the errors in a Will that you have written yourself may prove costly. In the long run, opting to have your Will professionally written may be cheaper. It means that you have peace of mind knowing that when you die your wishes are followed.
Yes. In Scotland, you have to be over 16. It’s different if you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. Here the age limit is that you must be over 18. There is an exception to the rule. For those who serve in the Armed Forces and are on active duty, they can make a special Will at the age of 17.
Yes. Witnesses need to be persons who are not family members or will benefit from your estate. Providing they are impartial; the choice is yours. Two witnesses need to sign the Will to say that they have seen you sign the Will in their presence.
No. There is no legal right for ‘common law’ partners to inherit. The rules of intestate mean they would not receive anything from your estate. It is only married or civil partners who can automatically inherit from each other. If you are in a cohabiting arrangement, then you need to get professional legal advice .
If you own property abroad and die, what happens to it may not be the same as if it was in the UK. What happens may depend on which country the property resides in. For example, if you have property in the EU then it is the state which sets the rules. It is they who say who inherits what. If you have property overseas then your best option, is to have more than one Will. You can have a Will that just covers the country where your property is. By doing this, there is less chance of any errors or problems in the distribution of your estate.
Sadly, this is something that might happen. If one of your beneficiaries should die, then you need to review your Will. Depending on how your Will is written, you might not have to make any changes. This is because your Will might be written in such a way that it takes into account the death of a beneficiary. It might include wording that recommends what should happen in such a situation. If it doesn’t, and other changes need to be made, then you should consider making a new Will that updates your old one.
Yes. It is possible to make changes anytime to your Will. It may not be necessary to write a new Will if the change is only a minor one. A Codicil is a legally valid document that allows you to make small changes to your Will. It is read together with the original Will. If it is a major change, then you will need to make a new Will that invalidates any previous Wills.
Just because you have a Will doesn’t mean that you can forget about it. Your circumstances will change over time, and your Will should reflect this. It’s important to update your Will if one of the following events happens:
You get married.
You get divorced.
Changes to your financial circumstances.
You buy or sell a property.
There may be other changes that mean you need to update your Will. Whatever the case, it’s important that you review your Will on a regular basis. It’s recommended that you do this every 2 or 3 years.
Yes. If you get married, this revokes immediately any existing Will you might have. To make sure that your wishes still apply, you need to make a new Will. This will reflect the change that results from getting married. Until you are divorced, any gifts you make in your Will to your ex-partner are still valid. If you are only separated and haven’t made a Will then potentially they could inherit based on the intestate rules. Making a new Will allows you to be clear about what you want to happen on getting married or divorced. The same applies if you enter in to or end a Civil Partnership.
It is not possible to have a joint Will. A Will is specific to one person only. For married couples, the way around this is for them to have what is known as a Mirror Will. A mirror Will is a term given to Wills that are almost identical. These are made by a husband and wife and involves each having the same Will but in reverse. With a mirror Will, each leaves everything to his or her partner. Usually, the partner still living is the executor. In case both partners should die at the same time, standard practice is to appoint a second executor.
Yes. When you make a Will , it’s important that you make ‘reasonable financial provision’ for your dependents when you die. If you don’t then could bring a claim against your estate. Even though the claim might not be successful, it can delay things and mean additional expense for all involved. If you think that someone might challenge your Will, it’s essential that you get legal advice so that your Will takes this into account.
When you make a Will , it’s essential that you keep it safe. You can keep it at home. Alternatively, you can store it with your solicitor, the bank or the London Probate Service. Usually, there is a charge for doing this. If you opt to keep it in a bank, don’t use a safe deposit box. An executor is unlikely to be able to get access to the safe deposit box without having the Will to hand. It’s important that you make sure that a friend, relative or your executor knows where they can find the Will.