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Here at Aticus Law our specialist wills and probate solicitors will assist you with preparing for your future.

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Preparing a Will

A Will is a document that deals with the distribution of your assets on your death. You can’t take them with you! If you have no Will then your assets are distributed in accordance with the intestacy laws. This means the state decides who gets what, even if that goes against wishes you expressed during your lifetime.

What to consider before making a Will

Before you make a Will, you’ll need to think carefully about your wishes, your financial position, and the way in which your assets are owned. Questions you should ask yourself include:

  • Who will be my Executors? These are the people who carry out your wishes.
  • Do I need to appoint guardians for my children who survive me and are under the age of 18?
  • Would I want my children to receive money at the age of 18 or at a later date?
  • What am I worth, financially speaking?
  • Will my financial position change? For example, will I inherit some money?
  • Do I own property jointly with another person such as a bank account or a house?
  • Will I have to pay Inheritance Tax?
  • Where will my pension monies go if I die?
  • Do I want to cut out someone so that they do not benefit from my death?
  • Do I want to leave anything to a charity?
  • Does a Will made in England cover my assets abroad? If not, it may be necessary to make another Will in the country where the other asset is located.
  • What if I die at the same time as my partner, spouse or civil partner – who would I like to benefit if we both pass away?

If you do not know the answers to some of these questions, then don’t worry. We can help calculate whether inheritance tax would be due on your estate. We can also provide further information to help you make important decisions, such as who to appoint as your Executors and whether or not to incorporate a Trust into your Will.

We can write a document that reflects your wishes, is free of ambiguities and complies with the legal requirements of a Will.

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Reviewing and updating Existing Wills

We recommend that you have your Will reviewed every five years. Life circumstances are forever changing, and you may need to update your Will to accommodate for these changes. For example, a divorce, marriage or birth of a child may have impacted on the terms of your existing Will. Your children may be old enough now to act as Executors. The charity you referred to may no longer exist. A beneficiary may have died. You may now have grandchildren, have sold your business or made lifetime gifts to family and you do not want them getting a double dip at the money.

It is also important to remember that a Will is a tax document and should be written to sit correctly with the current inheritance tax regime. If it is written incorrectly, you could miss out on the full benefits of the residence nil rate band.

The inheritance tax regime may have changed since you last wrote your Will. Particularly, Wills written before the nil rate band became transferable could be simplified, to remove trusts that over-complicate the administration of your estate.

Many of the disputes we see are caused by Wills not being redrawn to meet all these changes.

Avoiding disputed Wills

Disputes concerning Wills or the administration of the estate of someone who has died are relatively common. This may be on either an intestacy or where there is a Will.

Where someone has died without a Will, the complaint can be that the intestacy law has not provided for someone who has a moral entitlement, such as a cohabitee. Or it could be that the spouse or civil partner wants to make a claim against the children of the deceased as they feel they should have received more.

Where there is a Will, the complaint could be that a child has been left out or has been left less than their siblings, or that a cohabitee, spouse or civil partner has been by-passed in favour of children. There may be ambiguity in a homemade Will as to who falls into the definition of “family”, or whether nephews and nieces should take the share their deceased parent was due to get.

Disputing a Will is expensive and is an emotional drain on all parties. It can delay the distribution of assets for years to come and, indeed, there may be little left after the expenses of the litigation.

If you want to contest a Will, we can advise on the merits of a claim.

However, prevention is better than cure. That is why we recommend that you draft a Will in such a way as to avoid the dispute in the first place. A poorly drafted Will by an unqualified Will writer can cause misery, for the sake of spending the time and a reasonable fee in employing one of our solicitors.

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Our Will-writing process

We aim to make the process as simple and straightforward as possible. During a Will-writing appointment, we will ask you about your family, property and savings, history of gifting, incidence of tax and the suitability of your proposals. We will make suggestions, if we believe there are alternatives that will achieve your goals better, particularly for the protection of assets from future care costs and the use of lifetime trusts on second marriages.

Then, we’ll provide you with a draft Will, and an explanation of that draft, by email or post. If you wish to make small adjustments, we can cater for that. Once you are happy with the contents of the document, we will attend to the signing of the Will, either at our offices, or at your home. We always check that the Will has been executed correctly. Then we can store it for you in our Wills safe, free of charge.

Making a Will does require some thinking time as it is a technical document. It changes the position from the otherwise implied intestacy rules, is effective for tax purposes and lasts beyond your passing away. It is important to get it right, as you cannot change it after you have gone.

Make a Will today

A significant proportion of adults, including those with dependent children, have not made a Will. They are taking a risk with their children’s financial future. We highly recommend that you make a Will to protect your loved ones. It is something that many adults put off, but we can see the sense of relief in our clients when they have ticked this off their “to-do” list.

Get in touch with our experts today for free, no obligation legal advice

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