What is a Will and what does it do?
A Will is a legally binding document which allows you to express your wishes as to what should happen to your assets when you die. It also allows you to appoint guardians for minor children and makes provision for pets.
When should I write a Will?
Everyone should have a Will in place, but the main trigger points are when you have children, when you cohabit with a partner (which is particularly important if you are an unmarried couple and you want to protect the survivor of you), when you purchase a property, receive an inheritance, or on the break up of a marriage or civil partnership.
Where do I start with writing a Will and what is the process?
The process is that you will have a meeting with one of our advisers who will take your instructions and draft your Will for you. You will be guided through the process from start to finish, and if you do not have all of the information your adviser needs at your first appointment, you can provide this later and your Will will be amended before the final document is drawn up.
What happens if I do not have a Will?
If you have a Will, then your appointed executors apply for a “grant of probate” and they must divide your assets in accordance with the terms of your Will. If you do not have a Will, then your next of kin apply for a “grant of letters of administration” and your estate passes under the rules of intestacy. This means that the law dictates the destination of your assets.
Do I need a Will if I don’t own any property?
One of the most common reasons that people do not make Wills is because they do not think they have enough assets. Wills also allow you to appoint guardians for minor children and deal with distribution of personal items and funeral wishes.
Can I divide my estate up and does it need to be in equal percentages?
You can either gift items individually, or you can group all of your assets together in one pot and divide your estate in percentages. The percentages do not have to be in equal amounts.
Can I change my Will after it is drawn up?
Yes you can alter your Will at any time after it becomes legally binding, as a new Will will revoke your previous Wills.
How often do I need to update my Will?
We recommend that you review your Will every three years, or whenever a major life event takes place (for example marriage, having children or purchasing property). It is important to note that marriage ordinarily revokes Wills.
Does my Will ever expire or become out of date?
No it does not expire but it should be reviewed to check that it meets with your wishes.
What happens if I die while my children are under the age of 18?
If you and any other person with parental responsibility both die while your children are under the age of 18, you can appoint guardians to look after those children for you.
How do my beneficiaries access my accounts when I die?
This depends on whether a Grant of Representation is required or not. Some banks and building societies will release money from accounts with sight of a death certificate only, but some will ask for a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration, which we can assist you with. Banks will pay funeral expenses direct from accounts which is one less thing for you to worry about.
Who holds my original Will?
We offer internal storage for your Wills free of charge. Storage is fireproof and waterproof, and a copy will be sent to you to keep at home with your personal papers. It is a good idea to let your executors know where your original Will is stored, or for an additional charge of £30, we can register your Will for you with The National Will Register.
Should I destroy my old Will when I draw up a new one?
Any new Will you make revokes your previous Will(s), however it is wise to retrieve your previous Wills and either destroy them or store them with your new Will.
What happens if my Will is contested?
There are a limited number of grounds for contesting a Will and certain categories of persons may bring a claim against your estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Your Will writer will advise the best way to protect yourself against any potential claim.
Can a beneficiary of my Will also be a witness?
If a beneficiary is one of the witnesses to your Will, then any gift left to them is void. Witnesses should be independent and not named as a beneficiary in your Will, related to anyone named in your Will, or related to you.
How does it work if I own assets abroad?
If you own foreign assets, a Will should be drawn up in the country where the assets are held as their laws may be different. Any Will drawn up by us relates to the law in England Wales.