If you’re one of those people who keep meaning to make a will but never get around to it, here’s a kick up the backside from us: write “make a will” on your to-do list and get it done this month! It doesn’t take long, it’s not overly complicated and it is essential that you have one, especially if you have children. If you’re based in Buckinghamshire or Berkshire, pop into our Maidenhead office or call your local branch and make an appointment with one of our experienced solicitors to get your will drawn up ASAP.
Perhaps you made a will years ago and haven’t given it a second thought, despite your personal circumstances changing. Brownie points for making a will in the first place but a slap on the wrist for not keeping it updated! When the time comes for your nearest and dearest to read your will, it’ll be too late to change anything so it’s a good idea to make amendments periodically. Getting together with a new partner, moving house, acquiring new property or investments, having children – all the major changes in your life should be a trigger to update your will appropriately. If you divorce and re-marry, any existing will regarding your former spouse may be invalid. And, if you’re in the midst of a divorce and using Frances Lindsay & Co as your solicitors we can help you to adjust or rewrite your will as needed.
Your will allows your estate to be distributed to your loved ones and beneficiaries after your death in the way you want. It includes everything you own in your name, such as property, savings, cars, businesses, life insurance, investments and possessions, and enables you to choose who receives what after you’re gone. Your will may also detail your wishes for the support of any dependants and, in some circumstances, allow you to appoint a guardian for any child under the age of 18. You can also specify the age at which your children will inherit certain possessions or gifts. Oh, and don’t forget your pets! If you want your pets to be looked after by a certain family member or friend you must detail this in your will – never assume that your wishes will be carried out unless they’re down in writing!
When drawing up your will you will need to appoint one or two executors who can carry out your wishes for you and deal with the appropriate arrangements. If any of your beneficiaries are under the age of 18 you will need to appoint trustees as well. Sometimes it’s advisable not to choose your partner or children to be executors as they may not feel able to cope with the responsibilities of your will during the emotional period following your passing. Try to choose someone practical who knows your family and will be happy to liaise with your solicitor, or choose your accountant or solicitor in addition to a family member or personal friend. Many people use their will to detail their funeral wishes. Of course you can do that, but usually a funeral will be carried out before the will is even looked at.
It’s important to note that if you have any outstanding debts these will be paid off using your assets, so you may wish to put aside savings or a separate account specifically for this use if you don’t want your beneficiaries to lose certain elements within your will to debt payment. Inheritance tax of 40% is applicable to estates valued over £325,000 so if this will affect your will you may want to consider how it will impact your beneficiaries.
Some people try to save time by drawing up their own will and while this is entirely possible it also comes with the risk of misinterpretation and may leave your wishes open to the decision of the court. Seeing as creating a will with a qualified solicitor really doesn’t take much time or money to sort out, it’s always better to use a professional for such an essential document.
Although making a will is generally pretty straightforward, there are often a lot of decisions to be made and you may need help deciding on the best course of action to take, whether that’s to minimise your inheritance tax liability or just to make sure a beloved china doll goes to the right person. At Frances Lindsay & Co, our solicitors are able to offer you pragmatic and sympathetic advice and support, working with you to create a will that leaves you feeling secure that your wishes will be met.
No one wants to think about mortality but the future is a little less scary knowing that you have an ironclad document in place to ensure your loved ones will be well looked after once you’re gone.
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