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Making a will is something that most of us will have to consider at some point in our lives, especially as doing so will greatly assist our loved ones when we pass away. JMW's will writing solicitors are here to assist you with navigating the often complex process of will writing, ensuring your will not only achieves everything you want it to, but that it also complies with all legal requirements. Our team is highly experienced and takes a professional yet personal approach, and we are able to offer a fixed-fee will drafting service.
To speak to a member of our team about our will writing services today, simply call us on 0345 872 6666. If you would prefer for us to contact you, simply fill in our online contact form and we will call you back at a convenient time. Our team is more than happy to advise you, so get in touch today.
A will is one of the most important documents you will make. It is a legal document in which you can set out your final wishes in relation to the administration and distribution of your estate. It allows you to appoint executors and guardians to look after your children, to leave specific gifts to close friends, partners and charities, and to generally ensure that your estate is distributed the way you want it to be.
In order to make a will, you must be over the age of 18 and be of sound mind.
Making a will is a very positive act that can prove invaluable to your loved ones in the event of your death. With a little planning, you can ensure that your wealth and the gifts you wish to make reach the right people at the right time, minimising tax where possible.
By making a will, you will enjoy greater peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be carried out.
If you do not make a will, your assets will be distributed in accordance with Intestacy rules. This means that the law will dictate who can deal with, and benefit from, your estate. This does not necessarily mean that your assets shall pass to those whom you consider closest to you. In fact, in some circumstances if no blood relations can be found, your estate may pass to the Crown.
Failure to make a will also means that you will not be able to pass any assets to people who are not directly related to you, including stepchildren, common law spouses and favoured charities.
If you are separated but not divorced, a lack of a will means your estranged spouse will inherit and be responsible for administering your estate. You will also have no say in who will look after your children if they are under 18 when you die, nor will you have any control over the age at which your beneficiaries shall inherit.
Other consequences of not having a will include the possibilities of Inheritance Tax liability arising that could have otherwise been avoided and increased cost and delay in administering your estate.
The area of law surrounding wills is complex. Although you may think that you have a fairly modest estate, you cannot predict your precise family circumstances. What if you leave your estate to a child who is about to declare himself bankrupt? What if your child is on means-tested state benefits? What if you have married and you have children from a previous marriage? What happens if any of your beneficiaries die before you?
If these issues are not addressed correctly, your estate could pass to undesired beneficiaries. A solicitor who is a specialist in this field would be able to guide you correctly through the minefield surrounding wills. On the face of it, your affairs may appear very simple, but when you dig deeper, the reality could be very different.
'Homemade' wills or those not drafted by qualified professionals may fail to consider all the legal issues surrounding each particular circumstance and, in the worst case scenario, a poorly drafted will may not have any legal effect. Dying without an appropriate will may render your estate difficult to administer, complicated and expensive.
If you have already made a will, it is important that it is reviewed regularly as your circumstances, or the law, may have changed. It is therefore important to ensure that your will is up to date.
What Exactly Does a Will Deal With?
Making a will can help to ensure each of the following are dealt with properly:
- You can appoint executors and trustees who you wish to administer your estate
- You can appoint guardians for any child who is under the age of 18, thereby ensuring that costly court proceedings and potential family disputes are avoided
- If your children are under the age of 18, you can ensure that sufficient financial provision is left for their health, welfare and educational needs. You can also allocate funds for use by the guardians to assist with raising your children
- You can ensure that your loved ones are financially provided for
- You can give specific gifts or legacies to your chosen beneficiaries, including friends, relations and charities
- You can set up life interest trusts to ensure that your spouse/partner has the right to remain living in the family home
- You can set up flexible provisions for young beneficiaries if you do not consider it appropriate for a child to inherit at the age of 18
- You can set up a protective trust to ensure that beneficiaries do not lose their right to receive means-tested state benefits
- You can ring-fence assets for the benefit of your surviving spouse/partner against the liability of care fees
- You can include tax planning tools to reduce your Inheritance Tax liability
What Do I Need to Put a Will in Place?
In order to put a will in place, you will need the following information (where applicable):
- The names and addresses of the people you want to inherit
- The names and addresses of the people you want to be guardians for minor children
- The names and addresses of the people you want to deal with your estate
- A rough idea of what you own (your estate)
Should Young People Make a Will?
Although making a will is usually seen as something that is done in later life, there are various reasons why younger people - especially those aged 35-55, and even those aged 35 and under - should start thinking about making a will. These include:
- You can make clear and certain provision for a partner
- You can make clear and certain provision for your children
- You can make clear and certain provision for your parents should you currently care for or assist them
- Should you divorce or separate and die without a will, a substantial amount of your assets will go to your spouse
- Should you get married or civilly partnered, any will you currently have in place will be revoked unless it has been drafted with a marriage or civil partnership specifically in mind
- Should you cohabit or re-marry after a previous relationship, a well drafted will can ensure your estate goes to the right people at the right time
Can I Leave Money to a Pet Animal?
It is legally possible to leave a legacy to your pet animal in your will. However, it is not a simple case of leaving a legacy directly to the pet animal. In law, a pet animal is not considered in the same light as a human, and is instead considered more of an asset.
There are a couple of options available to ensure that your pet animal is looked after in the event of your death. These are:
- By gifting your pet animal together with an appropriate cash legacy to a friend or relative who you know will be able to care for your pet animal in the same way that you would
- By gifting your pet animal together with an appropriate cash legacy to an animal charity that operates a re-homing service
What Will Happen to My Digital Legacy?
The law surrounding what will happen to a person's digital legacy - their social media accounts, computer games and other online accounts, for example - remains unclear. However, the Law Society has advised people to leave clear instructions about what should happen to these accounts after their death.
It recommended creating a list of all online accounts, including email, banking and investments, to make it easier for family members to ensure the wishes of the deceased are adhered to, and to better piece together their digital legacy.
The private client team at JMW is highly experienced in dealing with all aspects of will writing. We have helped countless people to draw up a will engineered to meet their expectations and ensure their loved ones are properly looked after in the event of their death, making the whole process as stress-free and time-efficient as possible:
By choosing JMW, you can ensure that your will is:
- Appropriate to your circumstances
- Prepared by a qualified wills solicitor
- Stored free of charge indefinitely
- Prepare a draft will for your approval before inviting you to sign the final version
- Ensure the will has been signed correctly and is valid
- Provide you with a copy of your will for your records
- Advise on Inheritance Tax liability, if applicable
- Provide peace of mind