How can you benefit from making your will today? It's never too early to make your will, and we are here to guide you through the process to ensure you are able to enjoy:
- Peace of mind for you.
- Prevention of family upsets in the future.
- Knowledge that your children are being cared for by a guardian that you appoint.
- Gift any money to charity that you want.
- Ensure your pets are taken care of.
- Pay less or even no inheritance tax.
- Prevention of unnecessary loss of your home to pay for long-term care.
- Save your family money on probate fees.
- Say what you want to have happen at your funeral.
- Gift any particular items or money to individuals that you want to receive something.
- Ensure that your children actually get the fruits of your life’s labour.
- Reduce or eliminate how much of your estate goes to the government.
- Show your family that you care.
- Make sure your family do not pay any excessive executor fees
Head over to our services page for more information on how you could receive these benefits in a very short time, or contact us to make your enquiry today.
You are not expected to know all about Wills or Estate Planning in order to make your Will. Will writing is a technical area of law, requiring insight and experience to get it right. That's why you will benefit from having an established, professional business like The Willwriting Partnership write your will and advise you on planning your estate. We have prepared a glossary and explanations of the various different areas of wills and trusts, including what a will is, and what a trust is, to help you understand what we are doing for you when we write your will. Of course, if you have any questions that aren't answered on our website, you are welcome to contact us.
A Will is a document by which a person (the testator) appoints people or organisations (executors) that are trusted to administer the testator’s net assets (the estate) after his or her death. It also directs the manner in which the estate is to be distributed to the beneficiaries that are specified. In addition to the management and distribution of the deceased's estate, a Will can direct who is to be the guardian or guardians of the deceased's children. It can also direct how the deceased's funeral arrangements are to be conducted.
To be valid the Will must comply with the formal requirements of the Wills Act 1837 as substituted by the Administration of Justice Act 1982.
A Will shall not be valid unless; -
• It is in writing, and signed by the testator, or by some other person in the testator’s presence and by his direction
• It appears that the testator intended his signature to give effect to the Will
• The signature is made or acknowledged by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the time.
There are certain people who should not be witnesses, for example blind people, people who are drunk or of unsound mind. Also, ideally it is better not to have a witness who is under the age of 18, who is very old or who will be difficult to trace. Finally, whilst a beneficiary or the spouse of a beneficiary can witness a Will, any legacy given to that beneficiary/witness or his/her spouse will fail.
To make a Will a person must be sober and of sound mind. A person who lacks mental capacity cannot make a valid Will. Where there is an element of doubt about mental capacity, it is advisable to have a medical practitioner in attendance.
Any number of persons can be appointed as executors, although the number able to take out a grant of probate is limited to four.
Although there is no restriction of appointment, it is preferable to ensure the executors are not aliens resident abroad, minors, convicted criminals, or bankrupts, as the court could exercise its discretion to pass over the person nominated. It is also sensible to appoint executors who are younger than the testator, as clearly they have to survive the testator to act.
A firm of solicitors, a bank or a trust corporation may be appointed as an executor. The advantage of such an appointment is that the administration of the estate is in professional hands. The disadvantage however is that the professional executor is allowed to charge for sevices rendered Under normal circumstances persons under eighteen years of age cannot make a Will
An exception to the rule about a Will having to be in writing and the person having to be eighteen applies in the case of members of the armed forces on active duty, when a verbal Will from a minor would be acceptable.
A blind or illiterate person, or a person who does not have a good command of the English language can make a Will, but in these circumstances a special attestation clause is inserted, the Will is read over to them and in some cases the Will can be signed on their behalf.
A Will is revoked by its physical destruction, or by a subsequent Will or codicil. Marriage, re-marriage or a civil partnership also revokes a Will unless the Will was expressly written in anticipation of the marriage.
Jointly owned property (as joint tenants) passes to the surviving owners, and is not disposed of through the Will
Nominations by the deceased (below £5000), as well as certain life assurance policies and pension schemes of the deceased can be written so as to be paid to beneficiaries independently of the Will.
Will Trusts, as the name implies are included in the Will of the client where their use, as a part of estate planning, can be employed as a way of controlling or protecting what happens to assets and property after the owner`s death and as a way of avoiding excessive Inheritance Tax on the estate. To suit the client`s needs and expectations, Will Trusts of various types can be used to accomplish a variety of different objectives. (For various types of trust, see our page on Trusts). At the time of taking a client`s Will instructions we will advise, where appropriate, on the benefits of specific Will Trusts to suit the client`s requirements.
What will I have to do when my will is complete?
Having completed the making, signing and witnessing of your will, there are a number of other things that ideally you should do before they are forgotten: -
- Make sure that your Will is stored securely in a place that is thief-proof, tamper-proof, water-proof and fire-proof (not just fire-resistant). If you don`t possess a safe of the requisite strength, we can arrange safe storage for a small one-off lifetime charge. Also, please note that there are a number of other benefits in us arranging your Will storage. See our page on Document Storage.
- Make a copy of your funeral instructions (the undertaker and family may need them before the Will is read)
- For similar reasons to above, even if included in your Will, make a list of any wishes or instructions you may have about donations to a charity, instead of flowers at your funeral.
- Make a list of all the family members and friends etc who should be notified of your death and funeral arrangements
- Make a list of the organisations that will need to be informed of your death. This would include those companies who are providing personal or household services, as well as the banks, building societies, insurance companies, state and private pension providers etc.
- Instructions should be written where to find all your important documents including your passport, driving licence, share certificates, policies, deeds etc
- As above, instructions should be written where to find the original or copies of all the keys that you currently have in use
- A list should be made of those items that should be returned to the appropriate authorities such as library books, passports, driving licence, equipment borrowed from the local authority or the NHS
- A list should be made of those items such as library cards, NI medical card, store cards, credit cards or debit cards etc that are to be destroyed after the relevant organisation has been notified of your death.
- Finally, make sure that a copy of the above list of instructions is given to your executors and to your close family.
The Inheritance (provision for family and dependants) Act 1975
It is possible to challenge a Will or in the absence of a Will, an Intestacy where a dependant person (family or otherwise) has been excluded or not received sufficient inheritance from the Will or where under the intestacy rules a person would not normally be due to inherit. Normally claimants would be spouses, former spouses, co-habitees, children, step children or anyone who was being `maintained` by the deceased immediately before his or her death.
The claim would normally have to be made within a six-month period against the personal representatives
and beneficiaries of the estate. Claims under the Act would have regard to the provision the applicant might reasonably expect to receive.
There are a number of factors to be taken into account in arriving at what would be a reasonable provision. Factors such as the extent to which the applicant was dependent on the deceased, the financial resources and needs of the applicant, the size of the estate and the length of time of the dependency are considered. Also to be considered would be whether the maintenance was necessary to discharge the costs of daily living, the social standing of the applicant and the standard of living the deceased had encouraged the applicant to have.
There are additional criteria for spouses. Here the Court has regard to the provision an applicant might reasonably have expected to receive if the marriage had ended in divorce rather than death. The guide in these circumstances would be an equal division. Whilst there is no legal presumption the Court would only depart from the guideline of equality if there were good reason to do so. Claims are rarely made against the estate of a deceased ex spouse as divorce settlements generally include a bar on the 1975 Act in divorce settlements.
An informal partner (co-habitee) has no claim on the estate of the deceased under the Intestacy rules, but can apply for provision under the 1975 Act if they had been living together continuously for at least two years before the death.
Children of the deceased can apply for provision irrespective of age, although a claim based on the grounds of poverty alone would be insufficient. The Court would however take account of the manner in which the child was or could have expected to be educated or trained. It is unlikely that an adult child, in employment with earning capacity for the foreseeable future would succeed in a claim.
Successful claims may result in a Court order for periodic payments for a period of time, a lump sum payment, the transfer or settlement of property or a variation of a marriage settlement.
The 1975 Act cannot be excluded by a Will and therefore where a testator is concerned that a claim may be made against his or her estate, it is worth considering making a written statement of intention in the Will or in a separate document attached to the Will setting out in a calm and reasonable way, why no or an unequal provision has been made for the potential applicant. Evidence of the intentions and reasons behind such a decision would then provide valuable evidence to the Court in the event of a dispute.
Parental Responsibility (PR) gives an adult responsibility for the care and well being of a child and the ability to make important decisions on the child`s behalf with regard to the home, clothing, food, medical treatment, and education.
A married couple who have children together automatically have Parental Responsibility, even after a divorce. Similarly, mothers, irrespective of status have parent responsibility.
Unmarried fathers however only have Parental Responsibility if: -
His name is registered on the birth certificate and the birth was registered after 1 December 2003. (Fathers can re-register if their names have not been placed on the birth certificate before that date.)
He later marries the mother
Both parents have signed an authorised Parental Responsibility agreement
He obtains a Parental Responsibility order from the Court
He obtains a residence order from the Court
He becomes the child`s guardian
Others who do not have Parental Responsibility (e.g. grandparents or stepparents) can acquire it by:
Being appointed as a guardian to care for a child if the parent dies
Obtaining a residence order from the Court for a child to live with the person granted the Parental Responsibility.
Adopting a child
Parental Responsibility is of particular importance where a person is living with a child in a parental role, and needs the authority, stability and recognition to make decisions in the child`s life. Such decisions as the choice of school, religion, or which surname to use or guardian to appoint on the person`s death are of particular importance. (Note - a step-parent does not automatically obtain custody of the child on the death of the natural parent without obtaining Parental Responsibility).
Unlike adoption and care proceedings, several people can have Parental Responsibility at the same time. Parental Responsibility however can be lost if:
The parents give up the child for adoption
The Court revokes the Parental Responsibility previously given
The local authority has been previously given a care order which is revoked by the Court
Another guardian is appointed by the Court
Please bear in mind that financial support for a child and Parental Responsibility do not necessarily go together. The Child Support Agency can obtain financial support from a father who does not have Parental responsibility