Why should I write a Will?
Everyone over 18 and of mental capacity should make a Will because making a Will is the only way to ensure your family, friends and any charities you support will get what you want to leave them after your death.
A Will ensures that your assets go to the right place and can help to reduce stress at what is a difficult time for your family. It can also reduce inheritance tax on the assets you leave behind.
It is never pleasant or easy to think about your own death, but it will happen sooner or later. There is great satisfaction and peace of mind knowing that you have organized your personal and financial affairs. You will also avoid unnecessary expense, inconvenience, and perhaps disappointment. It is best to tackle the task when you are healthy and able to think clearly about the future, then enjoy your life secure in the knowledge that those you love are provided for.
What is a Will?
How we can help you?
A Will, often known as a Last Will and Testament, is one of the most important documents that you will be involved in writing.
It is likely to be the piece of paper that has the most influence on the way your affairs are handled after your death. If you are over 18 years of age and deemed mentally capable of doing so, you can make a Will.
A Will does not have to follow a set pattern; if it can be proved, for example, that a paragraph on the back of an envelope represents your final wishes, then this may be sufficient. But, in order to help avoid complications and to ensure that your wishes are understood and met as fully as possible, it is best to follow a set formula.
The key reason for writing a Will is to outline your intentions with regard to your affairs after your death. Your affairs may be primarily financial, although a Will often covers other areas.
Your Will will address several key areas, including:
- the nomination of your executors
- an outline of your assets
- your dependants
- any debts you may have
- any debts which are owed to you
- details of arrangements to be made for your children
- your intentions with regard to the distribution of your estate
- your funeral wishes.
Making sure your assets are distributed in accordance with your wishes is the overriding reason for writing a Will.
Your Will should include instructions regarding how your estate should be distributed, and to whom. Often this will be as simple as instructing that all assets should be passed to your spouse or civil partner, but sometimes other arrangements need to be made.
Another key aspect of your Will is the nomination of executors. These Executors will be responsible for carrying out your wishes contained in your Will.
Any children you may have could also play a major part in your Will. Many people’s major concern is the welfare of their children after their death, and your Will is the document in which legal arrangements can be made for their guardianship.
Often the nominated guardians are the same as the executors, although this does not have to be the case. Similarly, financial provision can be made by stipulating, for example, that part of the estate should be placed into trust until the children (or any other dependants) reach a certain age. 18, 21 or 25 are the most common choices.
Wills – Where To Start?
Frequently Asked Questions
In England and Wales, if you die without a will, the government, via the laws of Intestacy, will decide who gets what. If you have no living family members, all your property and possessions will go to the Crown. If you have children under 18 years old, other people can make decisions about who will take care of the children and manage their finances, education and living arrangements. However, by making a will you can specify your wishes.
A living will is a document that records your decisions about the type of medical treatment you want to refuse if you cannot communicate your decision yourself.
At Bicester Wills and Probate, we cover this via a Lasting Power of Attorney. You can find out more about this here: Lasting Power of Attorney
You don’t need to use a solicitor to make a will, it is a good idea to do so if the will is going to be complicated.
Bicester Wills and Probate offer a professional will writing service designed to help you arrange your affairs in a simple, straightforward and cost-effective way.
A Will is a document which sets out who is to benefit from your assets and possessions after your death and how your estate is to be divided. The Will also appoints the person who Will manage or administer the estate. This person is called an executor.
Executors are responsible for finalising all the details of your Will, such as obtaining probate and winding up of the estate. Anybody over the age of 18 at your death and of sound mind can be an executor. You can also appoint a Professional Trustee Company to be an executor. In general, Will executors must be considered to be capable of the role and above all honest. Choose people who you feel you can trust to carry out your wishes.
Not always… for example, with property, If the partners were beneficial joint tenants at the time of death when one of them dies, the surviving partner will automatically inherit the other partner’s share of the property. This is not automatic if the partners are tenants in common. We are more than happy to advise you with regard to your personal circumstances.
Can’t I just leave it to
the law to sort it out?
A well written Will can avoid
upsets in the family
Examples of where a well written Will could of helped
Like most people you want your life savings and other belongings to go where you want and not simply where the law says it should go. Also what about your personal items which hold sentimental value and mean so much to you? You may well have discussed with your family who should get what item but unless it is set out in your Will your wishes are not legally binding and you can not assume that your wishes will be carried out.
Problem 1 – Dots Wishes were ignored!!
Annie always loved her grandmother Dot’s collection of teapots. Dot always promised Annie that she would leave them to her in her Will. But Dot did not leave any provision in her Will and the probate was carried out by Annie’s uncle who was unaware of Dot’s wishes and sold them as part of the house clearance to fulfil his duty to Dot’s estate to get the best value for the goods. Annie was upset and it was certainly not what Dot would have wanted.
If Dot had made clear instructions in her Will, this would have been avoided.
Problem 2 – 2nd marriages can cause a hornet’s nest of problems!!
Mildred married George. They were both widowed and both had children by their previous marriages. They bought a home together and all their children are adults.
Then George died without leaving a Will. The house was held as joint tenants so it automatically transferred to Mildred. The balance of George’s estate was divided so Mildred got £270,000, all his personal possessions and half of anything that remained. His children from his previous marriage got the other half of what remained.
But actually what George wanted was for Mildred to remain in the house for the rest of her life and then the sale proceeds to be split equally between their respective children. Now Mildred could rectify this by making a Will which puts George’s wishes into effect but there is no legal obligation on her to do so.
If Mildred fails to make a Will she will also die intestate and when she dies the whole of her estate, which includes George’s half of the house and the £270,000 from George’s estate will go to her children and not George’s children.
Our Main Services
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We at Bicester Wills and Probate can offer expert advice and guidance in all of the above areas and more.