It’s not uncommon to assume that you don’t need to worry about making a Last Will and Testament until the later stages of life. Some people never consider writing a Will at all.
However, a Will is instrumental for ensuring that your legacy is carried out. It’s key for safeguarding your property and assets, and enabling you to provide legal protection, support and financial provision for your spouse, civil partner or other loved ones in the event of your passing. For these reasons alone, making a Will is something that it’s wise to do sooner rather than later.
There is a wide range of reasons why it’s a good idea to make a Will. The following are amongst the most compelling:
Through a properly drawn up Will, you can ensure that your wishes are recorded and communicated in a clear, effective and legally valid way, so that your Estate is passed on to your intended Beneficiaries in the manner that you desire.
It also allows you to properly account for all assets you own, including personal possessions, cash, bank accounts, investments, pensions and property. Without a Will, these will be divided up according to the rules of intestacy.
Intestacy law sets out the standard legally binding rules by which your Estate will be divided if you die without leaving a valid Will. Crucially, it allows your Estate to pass on to your spouse and blood relatives. In England and Wales, this includes your spouse and children (including any that you’ve legally adopted), your siblings (including half siblings if you only have a single parent in common), as well as your uncles and aunts (full blood or half blood) and your parents and grandparents.
Intestacy requires an Administrator to act on behalf of your estate, and may require a ‘Letter of Administration’ to act as proof that they have the legal right to deal with the Estate.
However, it does not legally recognise step children, and it has stricter requirements for unmarried cohabitees to become Beneficiaries than it does for surviving spouses. This means that if you are not married to your partner at the time of your death, they may find it more difficult to become Beneficiaries of your Estate than other blood relatives, such as your children or siblings, and be denied certain assets as a result.
In these sorts of scenarios, it’s not uncommon for this to cause financial hardship and distress for the loved ones concerned. What’s more, it may even mean that parts of your Estate may pass to family members with whom you may be estranged, or others who you would not knowingly choose to benefit with your assets. Finally, intestacy does not always distribute assets in the most tax efficient way, which means that it’s less likely to be the most preferable way of dividing up your Estate.
A properly drafted Will mitigates the risks of these sorts of scenarios. A professional specialist probate Solicitor can ensure that your wishes are honoured to the letter, and that you can clearly identify the intended Beneficiaries of your Estate beyond all legal doubt.
Employing a professional Solicitor with the relevant skills and expertise is the safest and most reliable way to ensure that your wishes are recorded and carried out to the letter. Crucially, a Solicitor can help you to ensure that there is no doubt surrounding who should benefit from your Estate, and to what extent.
A Solicitor like a member of our team here at Farleys can also help you deal with any complicating factors which may have arisen from your individual family situation, or relating to your assets. Second marriages, for example, can often give rise to complex legal dilemmas concerning spouses and children, so a Solicitor can help you to navigate the challenges that these scenarios present, enabling you to reach a satisfactory outcome.
Similarly, it’s best to consult a professional Solicitor if your case involves complicated assets like businesses, overseas properties, or multiple investments like bonds, pensions, stocks or ISAs. This is because only your known assets will be divided when apportioning your Estate, so a Solicitor can help you to ensure that none are unintentionally omitted (which can sometimes prevent your chosen Beneficiaries from claiming them).
During our Estate Planning Service, we’ll take the time to go through the entire probate process with you, including your assets and intended Beneficiaries, so that we can devise an inheritance solution that works for you.
We also draw upon decades of specialist expertise to provide tailored advice on the most efficient way to account for Inheritance Tax through the provisions in your Will.
A ‘DIY Will’ can sometimes be downloaded from less scrupulous vendors on the internet – often at suspiciously low prices – and generally takes the form of a generic, cookie-cutter document. Unfortunately, these often create more problems than they solve.
This is because the average DIY Will typically contains a broad range of unpredictable flaws and shortcomings, which can pose serious issues in an area where even the slightest ambiguity can result in long, protracted legal battles. Some of these flaws include (but aren’t limited to):
This is just a sample of the most serious – there can potentially be a lot more! For these reasons alone, it’s crucial to make sure that your Will is prepared and regularly updated by a qualified professional Solicitor. This can avoid any unnecessary confusion, minimise disputes, and ensure that your legacy is carried out exactly as you intend.
Farleys Solicitors LLP is a friendly, trusted, and straight-talking local firm, fully authorised and regulated, and with over 50 years of experience in serving clients in Burnley and the wider North West area. Our Wills and Probate Solicitors draw upon a wealth of knowledge and industry-specific expertise in order to answer all of your most pressing questions regarding Wills, Trust and Probate.
At Farleys Solicitors, we know that every situation is unique. That’s why, in addition to advising you on the best course of action, we also tailor our services to meet your specific needs when dealing with probate. We may even choose to take your case on a no-win, no-fee basis.
If you need to speak with one of our specialist personal injury solicitors about any of our services, feel free to give us a call on 0845 050 1958, contact us using the online chat feature on our website, or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re here to help!
When a person doesn’t leave a Will, their estate must be divided according to a strict set of rules, called ‘intestacy’ whereby only m...Read More