Making a will
It’s easy to put off making a Will, however, you should never underestimate the importance of doing so. This apparently insignificant document can have enormous bearing on your family after you’re not here to look after them.
If you die without a Will your assets are distributed according to the law rather than how you may like them to be and this could mean that your partner receives less, or that your assets may go to family members whom you may not wish to benefit. In addition to these there are many good reasons for making a Will and you should consider the following:-
- A Will means you can decide how your assets are shared out and ensure those family members, friends or even charities that you want to benefit do.
- If you are not married or in a civil partnership your partner will not inherit automatically – by making a Will you can ensure that your partner is provided for.
- If you have children you can appoint a guardian so that arrangements such as where and with whom they will live can be made.
- You can appoint between two and four executors over the age of 18 who you know and trust to deal with your affairs after your death. You may, if you wish, appoint Norton Peskett to be your executors.
- You can minimise any tax liabilities that your estate may incur.
- If you own a business consideration may need to be given as to what you would like to happen to your shares and assets.
- If you own any property or your own, with someone else or abroad then you may want to give it to a specified person or give a child or relative the right to remain living in the property after your death.
- Are there any specific items that you wish to give friends or relatives (i.e. jewellery, antiques, pictures etc)? If these items are not specifically given to anyone they will go to the residuary beneficiaries (the person(s) who receive what is left after all debts and any other monetary gifts have been paid).
- You can plan for any care home fees that you may need to pay in the future and which may eat away a substantial part of your estate.
- You can specify your funeral arrangements in your Will. Many people find discussing their wishes for their funeral particularly difficult and writing them down can make it easier for not only you but also those closest to you when organising your funeral at a avery emotional time.
- A Will is also a final indication of your wishes and takes away any uncertainty about what you want to happen, in many ways this takes away some of the stress of dealing with a persons estate as your executors know they are carrying out your last wishes.
In order to make a Will you will need to provide us with the full names and addresses of anyone that you wish to appoint as an executor, guardian or beneficiary. We strongly advise, given the significance of these appointments, that you inform the persons nominated and your close family members, of your intentions/wishes.
Each individual's circumstances are unique. It is therefore important that you obtain advice that it specific and tailored to your needs which a member of our Private Client Team can provide.
What happens if you don’t have a Will?
If you do not have a Will you die Intestate (this is a technical term used in Law for someone who dies without a Will). It will take longer to sort out your affairs and could mean those close to you are unable to access any of your finances for some time after your death. There are rules for deciding who inherits your assets depending on your financial circumstances. If you require further advice upon this then do not hestitate to contact our specialist team.
Reviewing an existing Will
Reviewing your Will every few years is as important as making one in the first place. You may wish to change how your assets are to be distributed, or your family circumstances may have changed. We would recommend that you at least look at your Will every couple of years to check that it is still an accurate reflection of your wishes.
Frequently asked questions
Does your webpage tell me everything I need to know about making a Will?
No. This can be a complex area of law as each Will is individual and based on a unique set of personal circumstances. It has therefore been necessary to simplify greatly many points and this webpage should not be regarded as a complete statement of the Law. A member of our Private Client Team would be pleased to clarify any points contained within this webpage and provide any specific advice that you require.
Can I appoint my spouse/civil partner to be Executor?
Yes. Often married couples or civil partners leave everything to each other and appoint each other to be executors of their respective Wills.
You will need to consider alternative executors (we advise at least two) to act on the second death (i.e. when you are both gone).
How long will it take to prepare my Will?
We can prepare a draft Will for your approval within a few days of receiving full instructions from you.
Do I have to come into the office to give instructions?
No although a face to face meeting is usually better. You can give telephone or written instructions or email us. We can, if it is more convenient for you, visit you in your own home. We will need to see you at some stage to confirm your identity.
What happens next?
We will prepare a draft of your Will in accordance with your instructions and send this to you for your approval. If you have any questions we can happily deal with these – if necessary we can meet with you again to clarify any points. We will then need to see you in the office or at your home to obtain your signature to your Will.
Where should I keep the original Will
If you keep your Will at home you may lose it, accidentally throw it away or it could be destroyed in a fire so we like to keep original Wills for our clients and supply them with a photocopy. We make no charge for this service.