Your Will is one of the most important documents that you will ever make, it gives direction to what happens when you die. You need to consider what should go into making a Will, broadly speaking this falls into four categories:
- The people involved – you, your executors, the beneficiaries.
- What you have and how you want to give it away.
- Your funeral directions.
- and last but not least Tax and other risks to your estate.
Making a Will in the right way is important, which is why you should trust a professional to help you. Call us today to make an appointment to discuss your circumstances. Anyone over the age of 18 can make a Will. There are several key points which need to be covered so give some thought to the following:
Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney are the cornerstones of Estate Planning so the short answer to the question is everyone. However there are certain people who have a greater need than others and if you fall into one of the following categories and don’t have a Will you should take action now.
Single Parents – Single parents are amongst the least likely to have a will in place, but arguably they are the people who need to be making a Will the most. The reason is simple, if you die who will look after your children? This is not something that can be left to chance and a Will is the document that allows you to appoint the guardians that you want for your children. Whilst appointing the children’s guardians you will also make other important decisions like who will look after their money, what age they will receive their inheritance and what can be released to them and their guardians to fund their lifestyle. These are all questions with consequences and it is best to talk them through with a specialist professional advisor before making any decisions.
Cohabiting Couples – Think your other half will get what’s yours if you die? Think again, whilst there is talk about changing the law around co-habitation, as we go to press co-habiting partners have no rights of inheritance unless there is a valid will which leaves what’s yours to your partner. When making your Will you might want to consider guaranteeing provision for you children (especially if they don’t all share the same parents) through the use of trusts or specific gifts. If you don’t take action your partner could end up in the courts trying to get back what could have been theirs if valid wills were in place.
Second Marriage/ Relationship – A second marriage or relationship can be complicated, especially if someone else’s kids are involved. A carefully constructed will can make sure that everyone involved is provided for in a fair and equitable way. This is essential if you want to avoid a great deal of bad feeling and heartache after you have gone.
Over 55’s – As we get older a properly executed will becomes more and more powerful, depending on your circumstances your Will can help you save on inheritance tax, help to minimise your exposure to care fees, and together with Lasting Powers of Attorney ensure that control of your assets and choice over your lifestyle stay within the family.
Business Owners – Your Will can ensure the continuity of your business and is potentially the most important tax planning vehicle for your family at your death. My favourite question is ‘Who would run your business if you were not around?’ without a valid Will there is often no answer to the question, with a Will your business can continue to thrive long after you have departed.
The executors are the people who will be responsible for enacting your wishes, winding up your estate and distributing your property. Typically married partners and people in settled relationships will appoint their partner, followed by their children, then close relatives. You can appoint professional executors on your behalf, but this will incur a cost. Remember to ask the people you propose to make executors, they must be willing to take on the role. Executors can also be beneficiaries of your Will.
If you haven’t made a Will, Social Services will make the decision as to who will be the guardian of your children until they reach the age of 18. To avoid this, it is important you appoint a guardian in your Will. Guardians should ideally be of a similar age to the parents. If appointing older guardians, then make sure you review their suitability at regular intervals. For younger people, appointing guardians for your children is often the most important reason to make a will.
Unless the guardians are a couple, do not appoint joint guardians. Typically appointing both grandmothers is a recipe for disputes. On the face of it they get on, but would they if they had joint guardianship of the children? Whom do they live with? What type of discipline do they get? Which church do they go to? The list is endless. The last thing you want is to risk your children being the centre of a dispute when they are already unsettled and grieving. If you appoint a guardian, make sure you discuss this in advance with them, make sure they want the job and have the ability to do so.
If you have a child with a disability or special needs, then call us today to discuss the specialist provisions that you need to put into place.
If you haven’t made a Will and live in England or Wales and have an estate worth less than £250,000, the surviving husband, wife or civil partner will inherit all of the estate. Complications arise when you are not married, have an estate in excess of £250,000, or have children from a previous relationship.
The myth of the common law husband or wife. Lots of people refer to their long term partner as my common law husband or wife. Unfortunately this counts for nothing when you die! Without a valid will, unmarried partners cannot inherit anything from each other.
If you are unmarried and living with a partner and are looking at making a Will, please contact us directly so we can advice you on the best route forward.
Most couple will make Mirror Wills, so called because the two documents mirror each other’s intentions.
Dave the tortoise could outlive you! Make a provision for your treasured family pets when you make your Will. You can appoint carers for them and even set aside a legacy payment to provide for their needs.
A will is only valid if it is in writing and signed. It must be the original document as copies are not acceptable. Make sure your Will is securely stored and that your executors know where it is, as you will not be here to tell them where to find your Will. UK Legal Storage are part of the Will and Probate Services Group and store Wills and other important legal documents from £2.75 a month. Take a look at the UK Legal Storage website for more information on this service.
- Name Guardians to look after your children if you die.
- Ensure that your assets go to your family and don’t end up in the hands of strangers.
- Decide who looks after your affairs and assets after you die.
- Save tax and shelter your assets from Local Authorities and Care Costs.
- Save your family the heartache of not knowing your wishes.
- Simple, Understandable Advice for your personal circumstances.
- Fixed Fees, Appointments in your Home or at our Offices, at a time that suits you.
Will and Probate Services are one of the most respected Will Writing and Estate Administration firms operating in the UK today. Based near Peterborough, but covering the whole of England and Wales you can trust them for excellent tailored advice at a very competitive price. Contact us today to book your free initial consultation.