You need a Will to guarantee your assets will go to those you wish to benefit from your estate. Failing to have a Will in place will result in your estate being passed through the Rules of Intestacy which are predetermined by law. Please see our article ‘Why Do I Need a Will’.
Believe it or not you probably own more than you believe and very few people don’t have any assets. For example most people own furniture, a car, bank/savings account etc. Even small savings and items could benefit your loved ones. To avoid uncertainty we always recommend you write a Will. Here are some questions for you to think about:
Who would care for your children or pets?
Who would make arrangements and deal with your possessions when you die?
Who is going to pay for your funeral?
If you live in England or Wales and you die without having a Will in place then you would die ‘intestate’. This means that your estate (your money, property and possessions) is shared out according to the ‘rules of intestacy’. This is predetermined by government law and it means that there is no way of making sure that the people you would wish to benefit from your estate actually would. This is obviously extremely distressing to the family, left at a time they are at their most vulnerable. If you have didn’t have any living family members, then all of your estate would go to the Crown. Shockingly, it is reported that 65% of people in the UK still do not have a Will in place.
It is normal that you may feel a little anxious about the prospect of having to change your Will. However, it is a simple process and we recommend everyone reviews their Wills every three to five years as changes do happen to families and circumstances. For example, one of the most common reasons to change a Will is if you get married. This would make your existing Will null and void. You may have a new addition to the family or sadly someone who was a beneficiary may have passed. If you just want a simple amendment to your old will there you could have a ‘codicil’ written. Your existing Will remains valid and the codicil remains with it. Please note you must never alter a Will by making changes on the original Will itself. We always recommend if there is a number of changes then the safest way is to write a completely new one.
Your Will should be stored somewhere safe and where your executors know where to find it. At Bigmore Wills and Probate we do not believe you should have to pay for the convenience of storing your Will safely and supply this as a completely free service, for the rest of your life. Alternatively, you can choose to store your will yourself.
A Mirror Will is two Wills which are made between married couples or partners and are almost identical. These Wills would typically name each partner as the main beneficiary of the other partner’s estate. There are many benefits that come with making this type of Will with the key one is managing inheritance tax on the assets you pass. For example if you leave your whole estate to your spouse or civil partner your personal inheritance tax allows, which is currently £325,000, won’t have been used up.
There are two types of LPA:
A Property and Financial Affairs LPA. This allows your chosen attorney(s) to handle things like your money, property and investments
A Health and Welfare LPA. This covers decisions about your health, care and medical treatments.
A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets you (the ‘donor’) appoint one or more people you trust, known as ‘attorney(s)’ to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf. If you lose mental capacity without a LPA in place your family will have to apply to the Court of Protection for a deputyship. This can be an extremely expensive, slow process. If you have a LPA in place this would not be necessary as they already have legal authority to make these decisions when the time comes.
For more information on this please see our article ‘What is a Lasting Power of Attorney’.
Inheritance Tax is a tax on the estate (the property, money and possessions) of someone who’s died. There’s normally no Inheritance Tax to pay if either:
• the value of your estate is below the £325,000 threshold
• you leave everything above the £325,000 threshold to your spouse, civil partner, a charity or a community amateur sports club
If you have any assets over and above the allowances will be taxed at 40K – please see our full article ‘Inheritance Tax Explained’ as there maybe additional allowances or exemptions.
These additional allowances could be as much as 1 million for a married couple and remember there is no inheritance tax on any gifts between spouses.
Probate is the legal right to deal with the estate of someone who has died. This means clearing the debts and ensuring the distribution of the estate, according to the terms of the Will, if one has been made. When a Will has been made then the person who applies for probate is known as your executor. If the deceased died without a Will then the rules of intestacy would apply and the most ‘entitled’ person (the closest living relative) can apply to be the administrator of the estate. The grant of probate is the legal document that they would require to access bank accounts, sell your assets and even settle debts.
Writing your Will with us is usually much cheaper than using a solicitor. We are proud of our services and our clear, fixed fee pricing structure will allow you to make decisions at your own pace to ensure you your Will is how you wish it to be. The price we quote is the fee you will pay, so there are no hidden costly surprises.
It is important to note that our Will Writers also have regularly updated training. We offer convenient methods of meeting such as home visits, in our office in Walton on Thames, virtual meetings and even telephone calls, whichever is most convenient tour clients. We also offer secure storage for free.
You do not have to look far to find low costing or free Will writing services. While there are many sites on the internet that offer ‘do it yourself’ options, there are also a vast number of banks, charities etc which also offer very cheap or free Will writing options too. Whilst these may appear to look like you will end up with a Will being written at an attractive price tag, they will most likely lack the service of someone who has a professional certification and experience in Will writing. How would you be sure that the one that has been created for you would be legally binding? There is no way of ensuring that your DIY Will wouldn’t fail as it must comply with legal requirements to be valid. Also, Wills prepared without the trained Will Writers knowledge do not take into account potential claims that could be made against your estate. By not getting this advice, you may not be aware of how future claims could be mitigated or even avoided.
We are confident that we are also substantially cheaper than it would be to use a solicitor to write your Wills. It is important to consider that professional Will writers spend hours studying to get their certified qualification and to remember that when writing your Will you’re paying for their expertise, knowledge and experience.
Absolutely, you can go into as much detail as you like but some people prefer to add these details into a Letter of Wishes, which we can help you with but please bear in mind that this is just an expression of a wish and is not legally binding on your executors.
Yes they can. As long as they are over the age of 18, there is no reason why any family member, friend or anyone else benefiting from your will cannot be an executor. It is worth having a conversation with them first just to check that they feel willing and able to be an executor.
Yes you can. This is a popular option as so many of our clients may not want their loved ones to have the responsibilities of probate after your gone. There is no extra charge to add Bigmore Wills and Probate as an executor in your Will and our Probate service costs start from as low as £999.00. This would be calculated when you die and is based on the value and complexity of your estate.
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