There are a number of decisions you will need to take before making your Will. Your solicitor can discuss options with you so that you make the decisions that are right for your personal circumstances.
Read below our common questions & answers surrounding wills:
What Should I Put in My Will?
This varies for everyone, but key points to consider are:
- What property do you own?
- What assets do you own?
- What inheritance do you want to leave and to who?
- Who will be the executor(s) of your estate?
How Much Does It Cost to Get A Will?
It costs £120 including VAT* for a single Will and £180 including VAT* for a joint/mirror Will if you use our online service. Our online Will writing service is intended for use for straight forward Wills only. Complex Wills involving specific financial transactions or Trusts for example, will require a face to face appointment and cannot be completed online or at the cost of an online Will.
If you would rather speak to a Solicitor about writing you Will, please call us for a quote and we will be happy to help.
* additional payments may be applicable for storage and copies.
Can You Store My Will?
Yes, we can. It is very important that your Will is kept in a safe, secured location. Crombie Wilkinson can ensure your Will is kept safe and secure, providing you with peace of mind.
When Do I Need to Review My Will?
You should check that your Will still reflects your wishes every 3 - 5 years or when there are major changes in your life such as moving house, marriage, divorce, births and deaths.
Changing your Will can be easy. For small changes you can add an additional document called a Codicil. Larger changes may need a new Will.
Who Will Look After My Will?
It is very important that your Will is stored safely. It is also important that your Executors or family know exactly where to find it on your death. We will store your Will in our strongroom free of charge unless you wish to make your own arrangements. If you have made a Will with us using our Online Service, additional payments may be applicable for storage and copies.
If you do wish to make your own arrangements for storage we would recommend that you keep a record of where your Will is kept, for example at your Bank or other storage facility.
In order to assist your family in locating your Will and your other financial papers you may wish to prepare a list of your assets and where information about them can be found.
What Happens If You Die Without a Will?
When someone dies without leaving a Will, this is known as dying Intestate. When there is no Will, the deceased person has not nominated anyone to act as Executors and they have missed the opportunity to choose who should receive their assets on their death.
In this situation, the rules of Intestacy state who is entitled to receive the assets of the deceased person. Who the Beneficiaries are will depend on what relatives the deceased person left behind and how valuable their assets were when they died. They also confirm that whoever is entitled to those assets (the Beneficiaries) are also entitled to administer the Estate.
Without a Will, any assets passing to a child of the deceased will be given to them when they reach 18 years of age. If you want to defer their entitlement to say 21 or later you should make a Will.
There is also no provision under the rules of Intestacy for partners or cohabitees. If you are in a long-term relationship and you would like to provide for your partner then you must make a Will to avoid the upset that this may cause your loved ones.
Generally, people are free to leave their property in their Will as they think fit. It’s called the freedom of testamentary disposition. There is, however, a safety net, because certain people with close connections to the deceased are able to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.
A claim can arise if somebody’s Will does not make adequate provision for such a person. The same applies if there is an intestacy (when the deceased has not made a Will) if that results in inadequate provision. Generally speaking, a claim has to be made within six months of the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration although, sometimes, that period is extended.
There are several types of potential beneficiaries. First, there are husbands, wives and civil partners. A claimant in this class can apply for financial provision as would be reasonable in all the circumstances of the case for them to receive. Every case will turn on its own facts but, for this category, a claim can be for much more than merely maintenance. Secondly, there are co-habitees and the law requires the claimant and the deceased to have co-habited for at least two years. They are entitled to reasonable maintenance, something rather less than the first group.
Next come children of the deceased and certain children who are treated as such. They have a right to apply, irrespective of their age, whether they are married/in civil partnership or whether they suffer from any disability. Their claim is restricted to reasonable maintenance which, normally, means that a claim will only succeed if a child is either under age, in education (e.g. over 18 but at university) or disabled. Of course, the deceased may have made very adequate provision during their lifetime or by Will and, if so, the claim will not succeed.
The final category deals with other people who were dependant on the deceased and they have a right to maintenance if they meet certain conditions. This is an important case when there is a wider family.
In these days, family relationships are more varied than they were in the past. The law of intestacy does not make provision for co-habitees and step-children and, therefore, the Inheritance Act is very important. Addressing these issues is always going to be difficult, especially at a distressing time, and it emphasises how important it is, if you are affected, to obtain specialist legal advice.
What Should I Consider Before Making a Will?
1. Who should be my Executors
Executors are responsible for administering your estate.
They can also be beneficiaries under your Will. They must be adults (at least 18 years of age), and they can be your spouse, children, other family members, friends or professionals.
It is important that you consult with your choice of Executors to determine whether they would be willing to act, they are not obliged to.
When appointing Executors it is important to choose someone who has the time and skills to fulfil the role and to cope with the responsibility. Although anyone can be appointed as an Executor, certain people (such as a minor, a bankrupt or a convicted criminal) cannot take out a Grant of Representation.
At Crombie Wilkinson we have a great deal of experience and expertise in acting as Executors and Trustees. It may be possible for the Partners of our firm to act as your Executors and you can discuss this with us.
2. Do you need to appoint Guardians
Guardians take parental responsibility for any of your children who are under 18 years of age at the time of your death. Guardians can also be Executors. Again you should consult with your choice of guardian as they are not obliged to act.
These can take two forms - cash gifts or gifts of specific items.
Cash gifts can be made to any person or charity. They can be made in whatever sum you feel is appropriate.
You can state that the gifts only apply in certain circumstances, for example if and when the beneficiary reaches a certain age or if they act as Executor. You can also state that the legacy is only payable at certain times, for example if you die after your spouse.
Gifts of specific items would include items such as jewellery, houses, specific shares and investments, other personal items like furniture etc. They can be made subject to the same limitations as cash gifts.
4. Residuary Gift
This is the remainder of your estate if you have made gifts of cash or specific items, or your entire estate if you have not made any other gifts. This can be given to family, friends or charity.
The Will should make it clear what happens to the rest of your assets both if you die before the named beneficiaries or if they have died before you - who would you want to receive the assets in those circumstances?
You can include age restrictions and other provisions called trusts so that the beneficiaries do not become absolutely entitled to those assets immediately or at all.
5. Funeral wishes
Although not legally binding it is possible to express a wish in your Will about your funeral arrangements. This can be as simple as expressing a wish to be buried or cremated or more complex wishes.
6. Does my Will cover what I want to happen to my foreign assets?
Your Will may not be effective to ensure that property or assets you own outside England or Wales passes to your beneficiaries. If you require specific advice in relation to such property or assets please let us know when you make your appointment.
This information does not constitute legal advice in its own right. Always seek personal advice direct from a Solicitor before you take any action.
To speak to a member of our Private Client team, simply select one of the staff profiles.
Should I Make a Will if I Get Divorced?
When divorcing or if you have divorced, you should review your existing Will or make a new Will to reflect your new circumstances.
If you are divorcing or have divorced your spouse, it is very important that you make or review your Will for the following reasons:
1. Your spouse could still inherit from your estate if you have not made a Will and die before having obtained a Decree Absolute
2. You may want to appoint Guardians for your minor children
3. If you have appointed your spouse as your Executor, the appointment will be invalid after Decree Absolute.