Thinking about making or updating your Will? Our wills solicitors explain why it's so important - and how to get started.
1. Why should I make a Will?
By making a Will you ensure that the people you want to benefit from your estate, do so. You can be certain of the destination of your assets, rather than relying on the rules of intestacy. It will also give you peace of mind and allow you to make provision if you have a young family to ensure that guardians are appointed.
2. What happens if I do not make a Will?
This depends on what dependants and relatives you have. Under current rules:
- If you have a spouse or civil partner and children, and the estate is worth £250,000 or less your spouse will receive everything.
- If the estate is worth more than £250,000 your spouse will receive the first £250,000 and half of the remainder (together with your personal belongings, whatever their value). The other half of the remainder will be shared equally between your children. If any of your children have predeceased you, and have children of their own, then the grandchildren will inherit in their place.
- If you have a spouse but no children then your spouse will receive everything.
- If you have children and no spouse your children share your estate equally between them.
If you have neither a spouse nor children the whole of your estate will pass to your closest relative in the following order of preference:
- Brothers and sisters of the whole blood (you have both of the same parents)
- Brother and sister of half blood (one parent the same)
- Uncles and Aunts of the whole blood
- Uncles and Aunts of half blood
If you have no relatives everything goes to the Crown
3. Is it expensive to make a Will?
The money spent in having a will professionally drawn up is good value when you consider the peace of mind it provides. You will receive professional and thorough advice from a solicitor who specialises in preparing Wills and who is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
We appreciate that there are many forms that you can download from the internet or purchase but these do not always deal with more complex issues of modern day families or associated issues such as inheritance tax. In our experience many ‘homemade’ Wills are ineffective. We offer a range of pricing options to reflect our clients’ needs and circumstances and we would be happy to discuss them further over the telephone.
4. What are ‘Executors’?
Executors are the persons appointed to look after your estate once you have died. The role of an executor is to establish what is comprised in the estate, pay any debts and taxes due and then ensure that the provisions of the Will are carried out.
5. Can I change my Will?
Yes. As long as you have the capacity to make a new Will or amend it via a Codicil, which is an additional document that sits alongside your current Will then you can amend it at any time.
6. What happens if I marry or get divorced once I have completed my Will?
If you marry after completing your Will (and you have not made the Will in contemplation of the marriage), your Will is automatically revoked.
If you divorce, the gifts made in your Will to your former spouse will be ineffective and any appointment of the former spouse as an executor or trustee will lapse.
It is recommended you contact the Wills, Trust, Tax & Probate department at Tees Solicitors to seek advice if any of these matters arise to establish what action is required.
7. I have assets in more than one country - do I need a Will in each country?
A Will completed in England & Wales may be sufficient to cover assets in other countries however, we would always advise that you take specialist advice from a solicitor within the foreign country where your assets are located.
We are able to offer advice through our French law department in respect of any assets you own in France.
8. How long will it take to complete my Will?
Depending on your requirements and provided your instructions are clear and available when requested, we will provide you with a draft Will within seven days of receiving your initial instructions, and your Will should be completed within one month. If you have any particular needs (e.g. if you are about to go on holiday) these can usually be accommodated.
9. Where is my Will stored once I have completed it?
We can store the Will for you in storage free of charge and we will provide you with a copy to keep at home.
Tees is a member of Certainty, the National Will Register, and we will register your Will with Certainty once it has been signed. Only certain basic details are recorded on the register and the terms of the Will remain confidential. The Will itself remains in our strongroom for safekeeping.
If you do not want your Will to be registered with Certainty, you can opt out of this service. If you would like to opt out or if you have any queries about the service, please let me know.
10. When should I review my Will?
We would advise that you look at your Will every 3-5 years to consider whether any changes are required. If something significant should happen in the meantime, it is also advisable to review your Will.