What is a Will?
The only way to make sure your money and belongings go to the right people and ensure you don't pay unnecessary taxes to the government is to make a Will.
Do you have property, children, step children, grandchildren? Are you married, remarried, living with a partner, divorced, separated? Yes? Well these are all very good reasons for making a Will.
Currently around two thirds of the UK don’t have a Will in place; worrying statistics when you consider the risks.
Writing a Will doesn’t have to be expensive, complicated or morbid and it could save your family a lot of heartache. For just a bit of effort now, you will have the reassurance and security of knowing that when you die, your wishes will be adhered to and the things you’ve worked hard for all your life will go to the right people.
In general terms Wills do five things:
1) Name the Executor of a Will
The Executor of a Will are the people you nominate to carry out your wishes and sort out your finances when you die.
This includes dealing with paperwork and paying off the mortgage or other debts out of money in the estate, so it makes sense to choose a trusted friend or relative as your Executor of Will.
You could select a solicitor, accountant or bank but this may be expensive. It is also advisable to appoint more than one Will Executor, just in case something happens to one of them.
2) Distribute your estate
This is where you decide what happens to your belongings including property, money, investments, business, car, life insurance, jewellery and pets.
3) Mitigate inheritance tax
The law stipulates that you pay 40% of any assets worth over £325,000. Although there may be no way to avoiding inheritance tax, you may be able to reduce the amount paid.
4) Appoint a legal guardian for children under the age of 18
This is particularly important for one parent families or unmarried parents who live together. If there is no Will in place the Court will decide the future of the children.
5) Protect unmarried partners
Even if a couple have been cohabiting for a number of years, dying without a Will in place will mean the surviving partner does not inherit the deceased’s estate.
Dying without a Will
Dying without a Will in place means you have died intestate and the State will decide who inherits your estate according to the intestacy rules.
This could leave the people you care about in an extremely vulnerable position; for example, without a Will:
- Unmarried partners can’t inherit from each other
- Children from former marriages may not be provided for if you have remarried
- Provision may not be made for children if both parents die
- Married couples may not inherit the whole estate
Quite simply the intestacy rules are old, antiquated and certainly don’t take into account the more completed lives we lead today so why leave it to chance, make a Will today.
How to Make a Will
Through a Solicitor
Although this used to be the expensive option, more Solicitors are offering deals for writing a single or joint Will so it’s worth shopping around. There are also a number of companies like Over50choices Legal Services who offer their legal services online. You complete a Will template which is then checked by a Solicitor.
There are many companies that offer wills online, providing writing services and in some cases online wills storage facilities allowing you to keep all your legal documentation electronically in a safe place. As these sites may not be regulated, it is wise to only choose one that belongs to the Institute of Professional Will Writers.
Charity based Free Wills
Many charities now offer solicitor will writing schemes which are very often free. Whilst there is no obligation, the charities are hoping that in return for the free will service, you will leave a donation as part of your Will.
A cheap way to making a Will is to buy a Will template and do it yourself. DIY Wills can be a good option if your circumstances are very straightforward but be warned, any mistakes could invalidate the Will and cause problems in the long run.
If you’re thinking of buying a Will, why not let us help you. Our team of solicitors and qualified specialists are on hand to help you arrange everything and we will give you one year’s free Over50choices Legal Services Membership worth £90, which includes free access to our secure online storage facility.
Types of Wills
Depending on your requirements, there are a number of different types of Will for you to choose from:
A simple Will suitable for an individual. It includes the appointment of the executors, noting of any gifts and details the beneficiary who will receive the remainder of the estate once all other beneficiaries have received their inheritance and debts have been paid.
Similar to the Single Will but Intended for couples. Mirror Wills are two Wills which are almost identical but for the name of the partner.
This is where one or more individuals are made legally responsible for holding assets such as land, money, buildings or shares on behalf of the beneficiaries.
Discretionary Trust Wills
Similar to Trust Wills but rather than you deciding how your Estate should be split, it is left to the Trustees to decide based on the circumstances at the time.
Your share of the property is placed into trust protecting its value and preventing it from having to be sold for your husband or wife’s care home fees once you’ve gone.
Flexible Trust Wills
A way of protecting the value of assets for future generations. Your assets are held in a trust which pays income generated to your surviving partner for their lifetime. When your partner has died, the assets are distributed to the beneficiaries.
A living Will or Advanced Decision gives you the opportunity to dictate the type of treatment you wish to receive in the event that you are physically unable to communicate your wishes.
Frequently Asked Questions