Frequently Asked Questions
Wills & Trusts
This answers some of the frequently asked questions about Wills and Trusts. If you have a question that is not covered in the list below, then please let us know.
Everyone. You need a Will for all circumstances, whether you’re single, married, divorced, and have children or not. However, many couples are unaware that marriage revokes any Will you may already have, but divorce does not. Anyone over the age of 18 can and should make a Will.
If you die without a Will, there are certain rules dictating how your money, property or possessions should be allocated. This may not be the way that you would have wished your money and possessions to be distributed. As a result, if you die intestate (in other words without a Will) you run the risk of leaving behind a trail of stress, cost and even family feuds.
A Will should firstly appoint your Executors and/or Trustees. These are people who will sort out your estate and carry out your wishes. Your Will should include how much money and what property and possessions you have. Finally, it must also include who you want to benefit from your Will and who should look after any children under 18.
The default people who your estate will go to, in order, are: Surviving spouse or registered civil partner (but not common law spouses, partners or cohabitants), Children, Parents, Brothers, Sisters, Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts. If no surviving relatives are found, assets will be passed on to the Crown.
It is therefore highly recommended to leave a Will to ensure your estate is handled as you wish.
Inheritance Tax needs to be paid on estates worth over £325,000. Many people now pay Inheritance Tax because of the increase in house prices in the last 10 years. Using our expertise, we advise our clients on how to minimise the potential tax bill and, as a result, maximise the amount passing to the next generation.
A codicil is a supplement to a Will that makes some alterations whilst leaving the rest of it intact. This might be done to change an executor or guardian named in a Will. It could also be done to add beneficiaries or to increase a cash legacy. There is no limit on how many codicils can be added to a Will. Codicils are only suitable for very straightforward changes. If a complicated change is involved, it is usually advisable to make a new Will.
It is widely recommended that you pay a solicitor to draw up a Will on your behalf. Most noteworthy, this is especially important if you think it might be complex. Having a trained solicitor to help you will ensure your Will is watertight and legally valid.
If you buy a pack and do it yourself, or do your Will online, you’re taking a huge risk. You may even be doing more harm than good. Without a Solicitor the potential for getting it wrong is huge. This can be very costly to undo after you have gone.
It is advisable to appoint more than one executor in case one of them dies or is unable to act. You must choose your executor carefully because the role involves a great deal of responsibility. People you might consider include relatives, friends, solicitors, accountants or banks. We can act as your Professional Executors if you wish.
A Will can be more complicated for several reasons which can be:-
- If you share a property with someone who is not your husband, wife or civil partner.
- You wish to make provision for a dependant who is unable to care for themselves.
- There are several family members who may make a claim on the Will. For example, a second wife or children from a first marriage.
- Your permanent home is not in the United Kingdom.
- You are resident here but there is overseas property involved or there is a business involved.
A Trust can be a useful way of protecting your assets. You may protect your assets against complicated tax laws, potential care fees or from spendthrift family members. We can advise you on what type of trust may be suitable and the various taxes that will be payable. We can also act as Professional Trustees if required.
A Deed of Variation can alter the terms of a Will. You can rearrange how money will be distributed, provided everyone who would inherit under the Will or intestacy rules agrees. You may wish for a property to be shared out in a different way. Either by giving people a share of the estate who were not in the Will or dividing it up differently. It must be done within two years of the death and you will need legal advice.