• Why do I need a will?

    • You can decide exactly where your property is to go when you die, and how much of each asset that person will receive. Without a Will, your property may pass automatically to someone who you might not want to benefit at all, under the rules of ‘intestacy’ which apply if you die without a Will.

    • You can appoint your choice of guardians for children who are under 18.  Without a Will, a Court will decide who your children are to live with, if both parents (with parental responsibiltiy) have died.

    • It gives you the opportunity to choose who will deal with the affairs your estate when you die; a person you trust.  Where there is no Will, a family member whom you may consider to be unsuitable for the role, may be automatically nominated to deal with your estate.

    • It saves your relatives money, hassle and pain at the time of your death and afterwards. It is quicker and cheaper to administer an estate when the deceased person has left a valid Will.

    • You can make a trust in a Will.

    • A well drafted Will that meets your circumstances can save your relatives hundreds of pounds in inheritance tax that may be payable on your death.

    • Your wife/husband/civil partner may not receive all your estate under the rules of intestacy, which is a commonly held belief.

    • You can give gifts to the people you care about, who would not receive anything at all if you were to die without a Will.  Friends and Neighbours who have been important in your life can benefit if you make a Will.  Unmarried partners especially, should make sure that they have a valid Will because your partner would not be included in your estate if you were to die intestate where the rules of succession only favour married partners/civil partners and family members.  Likewise, you should also have a Will if you have a family that includes step-children, who are not counted as next of kin in the intestacy rules.

    • You can leave money to charity in a Will.

    • You can leave your family heirlooms to appropriate people by Will and your favourite pieces of jewellery, furniture or even paintings and other works of art.

    • You have the opportunity to exclude a relative from benefitting from your estate by making a Will.  It is preferable to include a ‘Letter of Wishes’ with the Will in this instance to explain your reasons for the decision. A dependant or former dependant of the person who made the Will (the Testator) can bring a claim against their estate if they feel they should have been included in that Will, but the ‘Letter of Wishes’ shall be evidence in that circumstance, as to the intentions of the Testator at the time they made the Will.  If no Will is made, then that person in the family may automatically benefit.

    • If you do not have any living relatives, your estate will pass ‘bona vacantia’ to the Crown if you do not make a Will stating where you would like your property to go to.

    • You can express your wishes as to the sort of funeral you would like to have.  You can also state whether you wish to be buried, cremated or your body donated for medical research or organ donation, perhaps.  This will not be binding upon your Executor(s) but will give them a guide as to what you would have wanted.  Some people state where they would like their ashes to be scattered after cremation, if at all.

    • For pet owners, you can state who you would like to look after the pet when you have died, if they are still alive.  A pet that cannot be rehoused may be destroyed.

    • You can put your mind at rest that your family, friends and the things that are important to you, have been catered for when the time comes. You will have done all you can to make things easier for the people you care about at a difficult time in their lives.

  • Do I Need a Solicitor to Make a Will?

    No! It is not necessary in most cases to have a Solicitor prepare a Will for you. In fact, Will Writing has deliberately been left out of the remit of ‘reserved’ areas that solicitors exclusively practice and have charged hefty fees for many years. However, it is advisable to consult legally qualified Will Writing professionals such as ourselves as we are regulated, have relevant qualifications and experience, we undergo continual training as Fellows of the Society of Will Writers (SWW), we are fully insured and SWW provide redress if things were to go wrong. Given the protection you get by making a Will with a regulated professional company, why would you choose an unqualified Will Writing company to make your Will?

  • What is a Trust ?

    Trusts are created by will or by deed.  Where money or other assets are held by trustees on behalf of a person or a group of people, this is a trust, providing the following conditions apply:

    • The person making the trust must make his or her intentions clear

    • The money or assets to be held on trust must be clearly defied

    • The person or group of people who are to benefit from the trust must be clear

    A trust might be used, for example, to care for infant children of deceased parents who appointed guardians in their will and set up a trust (in their wills) of their assets for the children’s benefit.  The trustees of the trust, appointed by the will, would be the legal owners of the property and investments  of the trust and under the terms of the will, would be obliged to look after this property and investments on behalf of the children until they reached 18 (21 or 25) at which time the investments would be transferred to the adult children.

    Fixed Trusts are set out in fixed proportions as to who gets what specifically.  Some flexibility can be introduced by giving the trustees wider powers.

    Discretionary Trusts set out who the potential benficiary may be in a set class of people, but give the trustees the discretion to decide what proportion of income and capital each beneficiary should receive, if any.  The person making the trust can tell the trustees how he or she would like them to exercise their discretion but the trustees are not legally bound by those wishes. The benefit of this type of trust is flexibility.

    Protective Trusts are used to provide for beneficiaries who may be profligate or are liable to be made bankrupt.  In practice, the beneficiary receives the income from the trust but the payment of capital is subject to the trustees discretion and the assets of the trust remain ‘safe’.

    Trusts for the Disabled are used under the provisions of section 89 of the Inheritance Act 1984, to give favourable tax treatment to what are basically discretionary trusts set up for the benefit of someone incapable of managing their own affairs or in receipt of attendance allowance or disability living allowance.

  • I own property in another country. Do I need a Will?

    It is quite common for British nationals to own property abroad.  This is also applicable for property in Scotland and Northern Ireland.  It is important to establish what happens to that property on your death, under the laws of the country where the property is located.  Generally, you should have a Will prepared by a local lawyer in that country, as any Will you make in England and Wales shall not cover immoveable property outside England and Wales.  the laws of other countries vary widely and you should always take advice.

  • How will my Divorce affect my Will?

    A divorce treats former spouses as if they were omitted from the Will. No gift will pass to them, and even if they are named as executors they cannot act as such. However, the rest of the Will remains valid.

    • Marriage and remarriage are somewhat different. A marriage usually cancels any previous Will unless it is made with the marriage in mind and it is stated as such in the Will.

    • As a result you could find you have no Will at all and the intestacy rules would apply.

    • If you have set a date for a wedding please inform us so that an appropriate clause can be included in the Will to prevent your Will being cancelled.

    • If you are still married but co-habit with a new partner (without getting divorced) do make sure you make provision for your new partner and any children. Otherwise, the legal spouse might be able to inherit under a Will you have made and not cancelled, or under the intestacy rules.

    In Civil Partnerships, the dissolution of a civil partnership has the same effect on the partners’ Wills as does divorce for married couples. The formation of a civil partnership revokes the partner’s Will unless made in contemplation of their civil partnership. If you are (or about to be) in a civil partnership, please let us know.

  • What happens to your debts when you die?

    Debts do not disappear when you die, unfortunately.  An exception to this rule occurs when your debts are greater than your assets – what happens then is that the assets you have will be shared among your creditors (after your funeral expenses have been deducted) and your estate will be declared insolvent.  Where the assets are greater than the liabilities, your estate will have to meet all these liabilities before anything can be paid to the beneficiaries of the Will.

    If you have a mortgage and you are leaving the house that is mortgaged to a beneficiary, that person will be responsible for paying off the mortgage, unless the Will states otherwise. Matters can be made worse if there is an insurance policy that you are assuming will be used to pay off the mortgage (and because of a badly drafted Will or a mistake when taking instructions for a Will) the policy ends up in the residue of the estate going to one person and the house ends up going to another.

    Most debts will be notified to and paid by your personal representative(s) from the assets of your estate, but the situation can be complicated if you are payig maintenance to an ex-spouse/ex-civil partner under a court order.  In such a case, the ‘ex’ may be able to make a claim against the estate unless a reasonable provision for that person is made in your Will.

  • Can I leave money to a charity in my Will?

    Yes, but if specific, it needs to exist as a registered charity.

    The full name, address and registered number of the charity needs to be put in your Will, to avoid confusion with other charities of a similar name.

    It is also possible to make a gift with a charitable purpose, rather than naming a specific charity to prevent failure of a charitable gift.  Your personal representative would then make the final choice of charity or charities, (depending on which charities were in existence after the date of death) to benefit the ‘purpose’ of the charity you have chosen. For example, if you were to state a wish to benefit charities that train dogs to help disabled people, then this class may cover guide dogs for the blind, hard of hearing or those trained to help people with epilepsy, for example.

    You can give as many gifts to charity as you wish, providing you have the assets in your estate to cover the value of the gifts.  If you leave a gift to a charity or CASC (community amateur sports club) in your Will, its value will not be included when valuing your estate (your money, possessions and property) for Inheritance Tax purposes.

    Gifts also made to a charity in the seven years before your death are exempt from Inheritance Tax. Also, under current Inheritance Tax laws, if you donate 10% or more of your estate to a qualifying UK registered charity, the rate of Inheritance Tax applied to any value in your estate above the £325,000 threshold will be reduced from 40% to 36%.

  • There are some changes I wish to make to my Will. Do I need a new one?

    You can apply for a Lasting Power of Attorney so that you can appoint someone in whom you trust to take over your affairs if you lose the mental capacity to act yourself in the future.

    The Power can be used as soon as it is registered at the Office of the Public Guardian or you can stipulate that your attorney cannot act until you lose mental capacity.  There are two types: property and financial affairs and health and welfare.  We can provide advice as to which would be suitable for your needs or whether you may need both.

  • I’m worried that I won’t be able to deal with my affairs if I get dementia in the future. What can I do?

    It depends on what you need to change and your current circumstances.  We can advise you on this.  You can make small changes to a current valid Will by using a Codicil but if the changes are considerable, it may be wise to have a new Will drafted.