Seven out of ten people die without making a Will. This is known as dying intestate. If you have not made a Will then click here to see how your estate would be distributed if you died, irrespective of your own wishes or the particular needs of your family or loved ones.
Isn’t it time you made a Will?
Did you know that your widow or widower will not necessarily inherit your whole estate? Other relatives may be entitled to a share of your estate and this may result in hardship for your survivor. Unmarried couples have no rights under the intestacy rules, so if one cohabitee dies the other will not inherit unless provision was made in a Will.
These rules are changed from time to time by the Government, so unless you have made a Will the distribution of your estate will be affected automatically by any changes made.
Do any of these phrases sounds familiar? We understand that making a Will is a daunting prospect, as no-one likes to contemplate the thought of their passing away. However, it is such an important step to take to protecting and securing the future of your loved ones, not only by planning your estate to ensure they are financially supported, but also to make decisions such as guardians for your children. It is not expensive and can save considerable expense and much heartache later.
Good reasons for making a Will
There are many reasons why you should make a Will, including:
You can decide who will benefit from your estate
You can ensure that any inheritance tax liability arising from your death is kept to a minimum
You can appoint guardians for your children
You can decide at what age your children should inherit
You can decide whom to appoint as your executors. They are the people who will administer your estate and ensure that your wishes are carried out
If you are divorced or separated it is often very important to make a Will
You can leave particular items of your estate to specific people
With the growing use of online technologies to manage banking, shopping, investments, photos and music, as well as the increase in social media use, it is also important that you consider these aspects of your life when making a Will.
There are different types of Will that could provide extra benefits to you and your family; click here for more details on Life Interest Trust Wills.
Key stages in making a Will
"I don’t want to think about it, I will get around to it eventually."
"I’m married, with children, and really must see a solicitor but my spouse /civil partner both work and we never have time."
"A close friend has just died leaving no Will, what a mess! The poor family concerned would really have appreciated a Will to guide them. I must do it."
"I have contacted a solicitor and I have got a questionnaire to help channel my thoughts...what next?"
Do any of these phrases sound familiar? In our experience most people are pleasantly surprised at how simple it all is. Often the most difficult decision to be taken is making the appointment in the first place.
Once you have made the practical decision to make a Will, the procedure is simple. Give some thought as to how you would wish your estate to be distributed, as well as considering the following questions:
"My spouse/civil partner is an obvious choice; but who in the middle of bereavement wants to deal with tax forms, the Oath to the Court, and the endless paper chase with various asset holders."
"It’s a family affair so I want someone sympathetic, but also someone who is good with paper and figures."
"I own land so two executors would be needed - maybe I’ll select different individuals with the necessary skill mix."
"I have chosen my executors. But I also have children so I need to appoint a Guardian."
"I need someone who can empathize with the children and ensure continuity at school; but I also need someone who is robust and will ensure funds are properly applied. Maybe at least one of the executors should also be a guardian?"
These are all things you will need to consider, and who to choose as your Executors and as the guardians for your children are some of the most important decisions you will make. Visit our articles here to help you towards your choices:
Having a Will is not only useful for your estate and children, but also in having your wishes heard in a number of other different ways:
Funeral wishes? "Cremation or burial?"
Personal belongings? "There are one or two items that I would specifically like to give to certain individuals."
Tax planning? "I live in the South of England, and due to property prices rising our combined assets are substantial – including endowment policies. I have worked hard all my life and out of the taxed income I have saved, they will take 40% over the nil rate band of everything that is not left to my spouse or a charity. I had better find out more on these discretionary trust Wills and how the transferable nil rate band works for spouses. I want to leave everything to my family but there are a couple of people who I would like to give some money to by way of token. I also have one favourite charity that need all the money they can get."
Care? "In old age I would like to protect the key family assets where this is possible against care home fees."
Everything that’s left: "I want it all to go to my spouse, and if he or she predeceases me to my children, but what if one of them dies? To the grandchildren or to the surviving children? And with young children when would they become absolutely entitled; age 18, or 21 or 25."
Once you have considered these important questions, completed your questionnaire and sent it to us, there will then be some discussions to clarify your thoughts and choices. We will invite you to one of our offices in Fareham, Portsmouth, Southampton or Chandler’s Ford, or will visit you at home if you are not able to come to us. A draft Will is then prepared after the appointment and sent to you to approve. When you are happy with its contents the final copy is prepared and arrangements are made for you to sign. Your Will is then stored in our strong room.
There are different types of Will that could provide extra benefits to you and your family. Find out from the team in their video below how a Life Interest Trust Will could be the right Will for you or click here for more details.
Being granted a Deputyship Order can take several months. If you find yourself having to apply to become a Deputy you may also be considering the responsibilities you now face. Caroline Johnstone, Associate Solicitor in our Private Client team, explains more about when you may need to make an application of this nature and the steps involve
A Grant of Probate is the legal document that allows you to administer the estate of a loved one who has passed away. There are some circumstances when this may not be needed, and if there is not a Will then you will need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration. Bill Pollinger, Executive in our Private Client department, explains here what this legal document is, how to apply for it and how we can help you understand your role in carrying out the probate and estate administration.
Becoming a Deputy means that you have usually been appointed to manage the property and financial affairs of a loved one if they are no longer mentally able to do it themselves, and they did not have a Lasting Power of Attorney. Applying for a Deputyship Order to the Court of Protection can be a complicated process at a time when everyone will need to adjust to a new way of living. Caroline Johnstone, Associate Solicitor in our Private Client department, explains more about a Deputyship and how writing a Lasting Power of Attorney when you still can will avoid this last case scenario.