In this section our Wills solicitors answer some of the most frequently asked questions we receive from clients when it comes to writing a Will.
Our team of Will writing solicitors will help you ensure that your wealth and assets are allocated in a way that is advantageous and in line with your wishes. We have one of the largest teams of private client solicitors in the South, with offices located in Bournemouth, Poole, Salisbury, Winchester and Southampton.
To discuss writing or amending a Will with one of our experienced Will writing solicitors, don’t hesitate to contact us today on 0800 2800 421.
Why do I need a Will?
A Will dictates what should happen to your money, assets and property after you die (collectively termed your estate).
Having a Will makes it much easier for your family to sort out your estate once you have passed on; without a Will, your estate will be shared out according to the law of intestacy, which may not be in line with your wishes, especially if you have remarried or have members of your family who are estranged (see below “What happens if I die without a Will?”)
Writing a Will can also help mitigate the amount of inheritance tax that may be payable on the value of your estate, and allows you to leave assets to people outside of your immediate family.
Do I need a solicitor to make a Will?
Whilst it is not essential that your Will is drawn up or witnessed by a solicitor, it will ensure that it is completed professionally and accurately. Not all Wills are straightforward (even if you think it might be!) and there a number of legal requirements that must be met to ensure that your Will is binding in the eyes of the law.
We have a team of professional Will writing solicitors at Trethowans who are happy to offer the advice and support you need when it comes to making your Will. Feel free to get in touch with the team to arrange a consultation.
Who is the Executor of a Will?
The Executor is the named individual in a Will given the legal responsibility of ensuring that the deceased’s estate is shared out in accordance to their Will.
This includes payment of bills and taxes for the estate as well as making any necessary court appearances should any problems arise with the administration. If there are any disagreements, then the Executors are responsible for dealing with these on behalf of your estate.
Who is the Trustee of a Will?
It is the job of a Will Trustee to manage any ongoing Trusts which arise from the deceased’s Will. A Trust occurs when one (or several) individuals are tasked to look after property and assets on the behalf of someone else, most frequently a child or a vulnerable loved one.
Those who stand to benefit from the Trust are called Beneficiaries. Your Executors do not need to be Trustees, so you can appoint different people in this role if you feel that they would be more suitable (such as guardians for any children under the age of 18).
What is Probate?
In order to carry out the administration process, the Executor may need to apply for a Grant of Probate. This will depend on the value of the estate, what assets are held within it and how they are held. The Executor can either do this themselves or use a solicitor to act on their behalf. As part of the process, you must estimate and report the estate’s value (this is to determine Inheritance Tax).
Even if there is no Inheritance Tax to pay, an account still needs to be submitted to HMRC if you are applying for a Grant of Probate. If there is no Will, it is known as a Grant of Letters of Administration and can be applied for by beneficiaries or other people with an interest in the estate (such as creditors).
If you are the Executor of a Will or dealing with an estate with no Will and need to apply for a Grant of Probate, our private client solicitors are happy to act on your behalf and help take the pressure off you.
Can I contest a Will?
Yes, a Will can be contested if its validity is brought into question or it is believed that the writer of the Will was coerced in some way or did not fully understand what they were signing. You can also make a claim if you were financially supported by the deceased in some way. There are restrictions on who can make a claim in these circumstances, so please do call us to discuss these situations in more detail.
If you are looking to contest a Will, feel free to contact our team of expert Wills solicitors today for expert legal advice.
What happens if I die without a Will?
If you die without writing a Will (known as dying ‘intestate’), your estate will be divided up according to the rules of intestacy. This is also the case if the Will is proved to be invalid.
- If you are not married or in a civil partnership with your partner, they will be entitled to nothing when you die.
- If you are married or in a civil partnership, your partner will be entitled to most of your estate – this is true even if you are separated but not divorced.
- If you have children but no partner, then your estate is shared equally among them or their descendants.
- Inheritance Tax payable on your estate might be higher than if you had written a Will.
- If you have no living relatives when you die, your estate will belong entirely to the Crown. This is known as the law of bona vacantia, and is relatively rare but nonetheless does happen!
What should be included in my Will?
Before writing a Will, you should summarise your total estate and its value, so you know exactly what you need to allocate in your Will. Common assets listed in a Will include:
- Any properties you own
- Bank savings
- Premium bonds
- Any stock investments
- Jewellery and other precious belongings
Unsure what you should think about including in your Will? Our team of experienced Will writing solicitors can discuss your situation with you and provide guidance. Contact us today to get started.
Can I change my Will?
Yes, you can make changes to your Will and there are many reasons to do so, for example, you have children, grandchildren, get married, divorced, or someone named in your Will passes away.
If making slight amendments, you can use a document called a ‘codicil’. This is a legal document that is only valid in conjunction with the original Will and will need to be witnessed and signed in the same way. There is no limit to the number of codicils you can add to a Will.
If you are making more dramatic changes, we recommend that you write a new Will from scratch and cancel your old one. Your new Will should state that it officially cancels the old one and the previous Will should be destroyed.
Our Will writing solicitors can help you make amendments to your existing Will or draw up a new one. Don’t hesitate to contact us today to arrange a consultation.
What makes a Will valid?
Legally, a Will does not need to be written on any special document – that means it could be written on notepad paper and still be valid. For a Will to be valid:
- The Will must be written and signed by you.
- The Will signing must be witnessed by two people.
- You must have the mental capacity to fully understand the implications of your Will, what you are giving away and who might have an interest in your estate.
- You must not have been coerced in any way.
What is a Living Will?
A Living Will, also known as an Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment, is a written statement where you specify your right to refuse medical treatment in the case you lose mental capacity or are unable to communicate your wishes.
This lets your family, friends and healthcare professionals know in advance what type of treatment you refuse.
You must be clear in your Living Will regarding which treatments you do not wish to accept, especially if you wish for treatment in some cases and not others. It is important to take advice if writing a Living Will as it can invalidate other previously made documents (such as a Health and Care Decisions Lasting Powers of Attorney) if not drafted correctly.
If you wish to write a Living Will or make Lasting Powers of Attorney our private client lawyers are here to help and will talk you through the process. Contact our team today on 0800 2800 421.