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JMW’s specialist team of solicitors will assist you with navigating the often complex process of will writing, ensuring your will achieves everything you want it to and complies with all legal requirements. Our team is highly experienced and takes a professional-yet-personal approach to ensure that all your assets are passed on to the relevant parties in compliance with your wishes.
The preparation of a will provides you with an opportunity to review your financial affairs and take steps to reduce the impact of Inheritance Tax (IHT) on your estate, something that our solicitors can assist you with. It is equally important that your executors and trustees receive expert advice on administering your estate so the following issues can be taken into account:
- Unnecessary delays
- Claiming any relief and exemptions
- Protecting minors and vulnerable beneficiaries
- Mitigation of taxes, such as capital gains and income tax
- Resolving disputes
If you have already made a will, it is important to ensure that your will is kept as up to date as possible in order to reflect any changes in your circumstances or in the law.
How JMW Can Help
Our expert team of solicitors will guide you through the complexities of making the right will for your circumstances, helping you to preserve your family’s wealth, protect your assets and ensure no challenges can be made against your legacy.
We have helped a variety of clients with different circumstances create strong, fair and legal wills, and ensure they are kept that way. Our loyal client base includes business owners, entrepreneurs, sports professionals, entertainers and medical professionals.
On the face of it, your affairs may appear simple, but when you dig deeper, the reality could be very different. If your affairs are not addressed appropriately, resulting in a poorly drafted will, the document may have no legal effect and your estate could pass to undesired beneficiaries. As fully-qualified will writers, we will help you to engineer a will that is valid and clearly addresses how your legacy should be handled, leaving no room for interpretation.
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Why Should I Make a Will?
Making a will is a positive act that can prove invaluable to your loved ones in the event of your death. With the right planning, you can ensure that your wealth and the gifts you wish to pass on reach the right people at the right time. In addition, a well-drafted will can help minimise the amount of payable tax, such as IHT.
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 children 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 the raising of 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 IHT 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:
- The names and addresses of the people you want to inherit
- The names and addresses of the people you want to be the guardians for minor children
- The names and addresses of the people you want to deal with your estate
- A rough idea of what is in your estate
What Happens if I Do Not Make a Will?
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 administer, and benefit from, your estate. This does not necessarily mean that your assets will pass to those whom you consider closest to you. If no blood relations can be located, your estate could pass to the Crown.
Failure to make a will can also mean that you are unable to pass 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 when you die, if they are under 18 years old, nor will you have any control over the age at which your beneficiaries shall inherit.
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.
The professional association recommends 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.
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 provisions for a partner, your children and 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 have in place previously will be revoked unless it has been drafted with a marriage or civil partnership specifically in mind
- Should you cohabit or remarry 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:
- 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
- Gifting your pet animal together with an appropriate cash legacy to an animal charity that operates a rehoming service