What is a Will?
To be valid, a Will has to comply with rules that were first written in 1837 and updated only a little since then!
It is very important to make sure that your Will is valid to avoid arguments after your death.
If you would like us to draft a will for you, please download and complete the attached questionnaire which can be returned to us by post or email.
Why Make A Will?
- There is a fixed order of entitlement and it cannot be changed.
- People often assume that, if they have no Will, everything will pass to their spouse or partner. This is not always the case.
- Under the ‘intestacy rules’ only property up to a certain value passes automatically to your spouse. If your estate includes a house in your sole name, it is possible that the value of this would exceed the amount which your spouse would automatically receive.
- If you hold property in joint names with another person it may pass automatically to that person upon your death – with or without a Will. You might not want that to happen and the terms of your joint ownership would need to be checked.
- If you have a partner but are not married or legally civil partners, that partner has no right to your property should you die.
- If you have no close family, the costs incurred in tracing very distant relatives can be high.
- You can make sure that you leave property to your family in a ‘tax efficient manner’.
- Step-Children would not benefit under an intestacy.
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Why make a Will?
For example, if you own a property, you will have no control over who will receive it after your death.
People often assume that, if they have no Will, everything will pass to their spouse. But this is not always the case. Under the intestacy rules only property up to a certain value passes automatically to your spouse. If your estate includes a house in your sole name, it is possible that the value of this would exceed the amount which your spouse would automatically receive.
If you hold property in joint names with another person it may pass automatically to that person upon your death. But if the property is a house or land, it is possible that it would not pass automatically. This depends upon the terms of your title deeds.
The balance of your estate could be divided between your spouse and your children. Or if you have no children, your spouse may have to share that part of your estate with your parents, brothers and sisters, or nephews and nieces.
If you have a partner but are not married, your partner has no automatic right to your property should you die.
If you have no close family, the intestacy rules can give rise to very serious complications. The costs incurred in tracing very distant relatives can be high.
Benefits Of Making A Will
Amongst other things:
- You can choose your own Executors – that’s the people who will carry out your wishes and make sure your property goes to whom you intended. Since it is the Executors who have the responsibility for administering the estate, including the distribution of personal effects and the contents of the house and the sale of the house, it is of vital importance that the right person is chosen. If you have no suitable family or friends to act as your Executors, or if you think that it might be useful to appoint someone from outside the family (to avoid the possibility of arguments), then you might wish to appoint a Solicitor either to deal with the whole of the administration of your estate, or else to act jointly with members of your family.
- You can appoint ‘Guardians’ to look after your children – this is important if you have young children and want to provide appropriate care for them after your death. It is, of course, advisable to consult the prospective guardians as to whether or not they are willing to act.
- You can choose your own funeral arrangements – e.g. if you have special wishes as to burial or cremation.
- You can state if you wish to donate any part of your body for medical purposes.
- You can pay less Inheritance Tax – when advising you about making a Will, Fairbrother & Darlow will collect sufficient information to find out whether Inheritance Tax is likely to be paid upon your death.
Careful Will drafting with the help of a solicitor can have a significant impact upon the level of Inheritance Tax which will be paid. It provides an opportunity to assess the position and consider what steps can be taken to minimise the Inheritance Tax liability.
Even if you think that your estate would not be very large, you can save your relatives and friends a lot of anxiety following your death by making a Will which sets out your wishes as to the distribution of your estate.
Do I Need A Solicitor?
If you require a very basic will, you can now create one using this website. Please note that this may not, for example, ensure that you make the best inheritance tax planning decisions.
Also, if you have special wishes which are not that straightforward – for example, provisions relating to care or financial support for children – you will need specialist legal advice from one of our solicitors.
Fairbrother & Darlow now have an online will drafting service for the more basic wills. You will be guided through each decision and can choose to save and return to your drafted will at any time. If at any stage it looks like your personal requirements call for a solicitor, you will be informed of that and one of our solicitors will call you within 24 hours. Contact us to find out more about making a will.