Making a Will is not just a decision for a particular time, it is something that may need to change as changes occur within your lifetime.
Deciding it is time to make or review your Will can be a difficult decision. Although more and more people are beginning to discuss what they would like to happen should they pass away with their families, it can still be a difficult decision to actually instruct a solicitor and take that first step.
At Baines Bagguley Penhale we have a team of qualified and experienced legal advisors who can discuss your wishes with you, identify any issues that may need to be addressed, and guide you through the process to complete your Will without unnecessary stress and delay.
Why make a will?
If someone passes away and they have not made a Will then their property and assets will be dealt with in accordance with the laws of intestacy. This may not be how you wish your property and money to be dealt with.
A lot of people do not realise that when a married person passes away their husband or wife does not automatically receive all of their estate. For couples that are not married or in a partnership, without a Will there is a risk that the partner would receive nothing. The death of a partner or husband or wife may therefore lead to significant financial hardship and the people that you may want to benefit from your assets and property may not do so.
In addition where there is no Will this can leave friends and family to be faced with a large amount of unnecessary legal work and complications, and they can often unintentionally give thousands of pounds to HMRC in avoidable inheritance tax.
Should I make a will?
Making a Will is not just a decision for a particular time, it is something that may need to change as changes occur within your lifetime. Every adult should have a Will especially if any of the following apply:
- You have children
- You are married or are separating after a marriage
- You are co-habiting or have a long term partner
- You have assets over £325,000 or business interests or agricultural interests
- You wish to specifically benefit or exclude a family member
- You have retired
Most people do not know that entering a marriage or civil partnership automatically revokes an existing Will, so that there is no Will legally in existence until a new Will is written.
What can I include in a will?
A Will is not just a statement of who is to receive your finance and property. You can also include wishes for other personal matters such as:
Appointment of guardians for children
Without a Will there is no indication, should you pass away, who you would like to care on a day to day basis for any children under the age of 18. This can lead to unnecessary disputes through the courts if there is disagreement over who should be responsible for that care. Within a Will, should the worst occur, you can specify who you would like to raise your children and make financial provision to that person to assist with your children’s living costs. Whilst it is not a legally binding statement, it can help resolve disputes without the need to involve courts as your preferences are clearly made and known.
Protection of property from care home fees.
We are regularly contacted by clients who would like to know if there is anything that they can do to reduce the risk of their entire assets being used up in care home fees. There are some very simple steps that can be taken within your Will to safeguard at least part of your property against exposure to care home fees.
Specifying funeral arrangements.
Whilst it is not necessary, some people like to give a clear indication within their Wills of any specific funeral requests. This can relieve family members from having to make tough emotional choices over funeral arrangements, as a clear direction within a Will gives clear guidance to family members.
Should I review my will?
At Baines Bagguley Penhale we take the time to understand our clients instructions with a view to avoiding, wherever possible, the need to re-write a Will once it has been written.
There are, however, key times in your life where your personal circumstances may change, and it might be necessary to change your Will. For example:
- Moving property
- Separation or divorce
- Children now becoming adults or having children in their own right
- Births, deaths or marriages
- Change in financial circumstances
We generally advise client that they should consider whether their Will still meets their requirements around every 5 years. In particular, people do not always know what change may require a change in their Will. For example most people do not know that entering a marriage or civil partnership automatically revokes an existing Will, so that there is no Will legally in existence until a new Will is written.
Why use a Solicitor?
More than ever before Wills are now widely available from other sources, from Will writers to online packages, to do it yourself Wills available from the Post Office. Whilst these may be helpful they only deal with the preparation of the will document itself.
Most people’s financial and family circumstances are not easily pigeon-holed and it is only when a discussion takes place with a qualified legal advisor that any potential issues can be identified. With an ever more complicated tax system, increasing numbers of second or third marriages, adopted children and family disputes, it is vitally important to consider not only how your Will should be written, but who may have a claim against your estate or who you might owe responsibility to.
Unfortunately mistakes made in Wills are not really identified until somebody has passed away, at which point it can cost thousands of pounds to rectify and may never result in the deceased person’s wishes to actually being followed if they were not made clear within that Will.
There are many factors to be taken into consideration when planning your Will and it is therefore important that you take qualified legal advice and invest appropriate time in writing your Will.
Our fees for writing a Will start at £125.00 plus VAT (£150.00) for a straight forward Will. There may be additional charges depending upon the complexity of your Will and whether any further work is required.
For further information or for an appointment to discuss your Will instructions please contact us.