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Wills Trust Probate Farleys Solicitors LLP
Wills Trust Probate Farleys Solicitors LLP

Wills – Frequently Asked Questions

What you Need to Know About Wills, Trusts and Probate

Our frequently asked questions cover a wide range of questions you may have about making a Will, setting up a Trust or planning for later life in general.

For any further questions, please get in touch with Farleys’ expert Private Client team by calling 01254606008 or email us.

FAQs

What is a Will?

A Will is a legal document that officially records your wishes as to exactly what you want to happen to your estate after your death - in other words, how you want your money, assets and property to be distributed after your death. It may also specify provisions for the care of your children, and any further specific instructions that you may want to be followed in the event of your death.

All estates are different, but at the barest minimum, your Will sets out the following:

The identity of your beneficiaries (the people you’ll be leaving money or assets to)
Details of how you want your estate to be allocated between them
The identity of your Executors - the person or persons you want carrying out your wishes

There are a number of additional details that any given Will can cover, but these are the fundamentals.

Do I need a Will?

In a word: yes. If you have any money, property or assets that you’d like to leave to family, friends or select institutions after your death, then you should make a Will to ensure that everyone who you want to benefit gets exactly what you want them to.

People who choose not to make a Will are often under the misconception that everything in their estate automatically passes to their partner in the event of their death. That’s not necessarily the case. If you die without a Will, your estate falls under the rules of intestacy. In that case, the law decides who stands to benefit from your estate, and by how much - which leaves open the possibility that your loved ones will not be provided for.

If you want your estate to be dealt with according to your wishes, a Will is essential.

How do you make a Will?

When you’re choosing to make a Will, you’ll find a range of options open to you. You can choose to make a Will online, by post, or in person. Drawing upon more than 60 years of experience here at Farleys, you can rely on us to advise you on the best way to structure it. Once the draft is complete and you’re satisfied with it, the next step is to have it signed by you and two witnesses.

How much does it cost to make a Will?

The answer to that largely depends on the length and complexity of the Will in question. It can cost as little as £145. However, any Wills that concern more complex estates, with multiple properties and beneficiaries, will in all likelihood require more tailored advice. That naturally tends to entail higher costs. If in doubt, feel free to give us a call here at Farleys on 0845 050 1958, and one of our expert team will be happy to give you a more specific answer.

What do you need to consider when making a Will?

Every estate is different, but whatever the circumstances of your own estate, there are a few key considerations that you’ll always need to bear in mind. You’ll need to think about:

Who you’d like to name as a beneficiary of your estate
Whether or not you need to account for inheritance tax
The implications of any assets in different countries
The implications of owning, or co-owning, a business
Whether or not you need to provide for children from a previous marriage, whilst still providing for a current partner
Will your partner be able to stay in your home if you die?

As we’ve touched on above, these are just the essentials. Feel free to ask one of our experts here at Farleys if you’re unsure about any potential considerations for your own Will, and we’ll be happy to give you a heads-up on anything else you’ll also need to consider.

Who will administer my Estate?

We will advise you about the appointment of Executors. The Executor carries out the instructions given in your Will. Most people appoint members of their family or friends to be Executors. However if you would prefer to appoint us, or another professional Executor, please raise this at your appointment and we shall be pleased to assist.

Can I make changes to my Will?

Once you have made a Will you can make as many changes as you wish thereafter. Sometimes it will be best to have a new Will drawn up, and sometimes a Codicil will be sufficient. Any Codicil will then be read together with your Will. It is worthwhile checking your Will every few years, to see if any updating needs to take place.

When should I make a Will?

Consider having a Will, but certainly if you are married or in a civil partnership you should have one. Please remember that if you have a Will, and then you marry or enter into a civil partnership after that, your Will will be revoked, unless it was drawn up expressly in contemplation of that particular marriage or civil partnership.

How can I avoid making a mistake when preparing a Will?

To be honest, one of the surest ways to avoid making a mistake when preparing your Will is to get a Solicitor involved. They’ll be able to draw on extensive specialist expertise to ensure that every angle is covered, that every one of your wishes is accounted for, and that everything is solid and legally binding.

Some of the most common mistakes that Executors sometimes make include:

Forgetting to consider assets, such as bank accounts, premium bonds ands shares

Failing to account for outstanding debts. Debts aren’t written off when you die, so your estate will need to settle them before it can be distributed amongst your beneficiaries, potentially leaving them with less

Misunderstanding (or failing to understand) aspects of joint assets. Typically, your share in joint assets automatically passes to your surviving partner, especially with property and bank accounts. However, this isn’t always the case, so take care to do your due diligence!

One of our Solicitors here at Farleys can help you to navigate the most common pitfalls with Wills. Feel free to get started by giving us a call on 0845 050 1958!

What does an Executor do?

An Executor is a person (or people) who you’ve nominated to administer to your estate after your death. They have a range of legal responsibilities, which include (but are not limited to) paying any outstanding debts, collecting the value of the estate (i.e. selling property) and distributing the inheritance to your beneficiaries.

Do I need a Solicitor?

Hiring a Solicitor is not required by law, but in most cases it’s highly advisable. Aside from helping you to avoid the common mistakes we’ve detailed above, a Solicitor can also help you structure your Will in a legally efficient way, so that you’re not paying any more tax on your assets than absolutely necessary - so that your beneficiaries can each enjoy their full share. Crucially, one of our Solicitors here at Farleys can help you to ensure that your Will is valid, and won’t be disregarded in any way after your death.

Who should I ask to witness my Will?

Witnesses to your Will must be adults, and must not benefit under your Will or be married to/in a civil partnership with anyone that does. Most of our clients choose to sign their Wills in our office, and members of our staff will act as witnesses at no extra cost.

What does a Witness have to do?

A Witness essentially serves to give legitimacy to your Will by acting as a legal observer. Each one is an independent person who witnesses your signature to confirm that it is indeed your signature on the document. Ideally they’ll be present when you sign your Will, or if you’ve already signed it, they’ll need to officially acknowledge your signature. Once that’s complete, they’ll then sign the Will themselves.

This ultimately ensures that the Will is valid and legally binding, making it more resilient if someone tries to make a claim against it.

It’s worth noting that witnesses have to be impartial by law, and can't stand to benefit. This means that your beneficiaries and their spouses cannot be witnesses.

Where should I keep my Will once it is made?

Your Will should be kept safe, and preferably not at home. We offer clients the facility of storing their Wills in our strong room. Alternatively, some clients choose to lodge their Wills at their Bank.

How can I make information easy for my loved ones to find?

When you’re drawing up your Will, you can make things a lot easier and simpler for your loved ones and beneficiaries by making a detailed record of personal information. This includes:

Your national insurance number, and associated tax office
The date and location of your birth
Contact details for your next of kin
The location of your Will, Power of Attorney, and any other important documents (such as the deeds to any property you own)
Contact details for anyone you’d like to be notified of your death
Contact details for important institutions such as your banks, lawyers, accountants and financial advisors
Account details for your online banking, email, social media, and other digital services
The passwords for your computers, smartphones, and related digital devices
The location of any devices, hard drivers, or memory cards containing music or photos that you’d like to pass on to your loved ones
The full details of any specific instructions you’d like your Solicitor or loved ones to follow in the event of your death

Make sure to tell your loved ones where they can find this record - or a copy of it - in case of emergency. If your Solicitors have your original Will, it’s a good move to send a copy of this information over to them, so that they can act as gatekeepers. They can then pass this on in the event of your death.

When do I need to review my Will?

There’s no set timescale for you to periodically review your Will, but it’s a good idea to do so after any major life changes; for example, if you’re newly married or divorced, or you’ve just had new children or grandchildren. You should also review your Will in the case of any significant changes in your financial circumstances, including any instances of sudden windfalls or losses.

What happens if I leave something to someone who dies before me?

A specific alternative provision in your Will will come into operation, if you've made one. Otherwise the gift to that individual simply fails and the sum of money or item then passes back into your general Estate.

How can I work out what I will be worth when I die?

You will not be able to work this out very accurately, but you will be able to calculate an approximate figure. Then you will be able to decide how you wish to leave your Estate.Values rise (and sometimes fall), and therefore a review of your financial situation every few years, when you also review your Will, is very sensible.

What if I want to give something to someone in particular?

If you can let us have a full and accurate description of the item, and the details of the person you wish to leave it to, then this will be included in your Will.

What about arrangements for my funeral?

Your funeral and other related expenses are paid out of your Estate.If you have a particular preference for burial or cremation, you wish to leave your kidneys for transplantation, your eyes for corneal grafting, or your body for medical purposes, then these wishes will all be included in your Will.

What if I have made a Will but lost it?

Please check whether it is held by your Bank or with any previous Solicitor. If it cannot be found, it is very important that you should make a new Will.

Will Inheritance Tax be payable on my death?

Whatever a person leaves for the benefit of his or her spouse will be free of Inheritance Tax. As a general rule gifts that are made within 7 years of the date of your death (over and above the annual exemption of approximately £3,000), have to be brought into account when calculating liability to Inheritance Tax. Remember, however, there are other exemptions apart from the annual exemption, and we can advise you about those.

Where all, or part of your Estate is potentially taxable, we will advise you on the amount which can be left without any liability to Inheritance Tax, and the rate of Inheritance Tax on any taxable part of your Estate.

What if I own a business?

If you own a business (or even just part of one), it’s crucial to make sure that you have a proper Will. Not only does it detail your wishes for your assets and property, but in terms of your business it enables you to outline who’d inherit your shares, and who you want to take over the running of it on a day-to-day basis. Your Will can also set a precedent for what might happen if your business partner decides they want to sell up.

Can I leave money to charity in my Will?

Yes. Lots of people choose to leave money to charity in their Will. It can be a great way to benefit those in need, and as an added bonus it can potentially reduce the amount of tax on your estate, allowing your family to get the very most out of their inheritance. Obviously though, there’s a balance to be struck in terms of how much you want to benefit your chosen charities, and how much you want to benefit your family members.

There are a few ways you can leave money to charity in your Will. The most common way is to specify a named charity or charities who’ll benefit. If you decide to go down this route, it’s generally wise to include the registered charity numbers too, because charities can often change their names in the intervening years.

Alternatively, you can let the trustees of your Will choose one on your behalf. If that’s the case, make sure to leave a crystal clear record of your wishes, so that your loved ones can be in no doubt of what you want to happen with your money, property or assets. The gift to charity itself could be a cash sum, property or asset, or a share (or even whole) of your residuary estate.

Can I exclude close family from my Will?

It’s really all up to you. However, obviously it’s not a decision to be taken lightly, and if you’re planning to exclude someone we’d always recommend seeking the advice of a professional Solicitor like our experts here at Farleys. We can help you structure your Will so that your wishes are clearly expressed in writing, minimising the chances of any successful legal challenges against them.

What happens if I get divorced?

As we touched on above, reviewing your Will should be fairly high on your priority in the event of your divorce. It’s not unusual for people to assume that getting divorced annuls any Will that was drawn up during their marriage. That’s actually not the case - if you drew up a Will when you were married, it’ll remain in effect even after your divorce. That means failing to update your Will after a divorce could have serious consequences, with any (or even all) of your subsequent wishes for your estate rendered null and void by the original document.

With all that in mind, even if your divorce was amicable, we’d always recommend taking a moment to review your Will, just in case.

Privacy Policy for Estate & Trust Beneficiaries

Farleys Solicitors LLP act for or are appointed as, the executors of many estates and also act for or are the trustees of, various trusts.  As such we are responsible for deciding how we hold and use personal information about the testator, settlor, protector, other power holders and beneficiaries.

Please see our Privacy Policy for Estate & Trust Beneficiaries for more information.

 

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