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Will planning from expert lawyers in Cheshire.
Wills & Estate Planning > Making a Will
There are various reasons why people put off making a will. Thinking about what will happen after you are gone isn’t something anyone wishes to dwell on, but if you make a will, it ensures that your estate is dealt with the way you wanted and with effective planning, you can protect your loved ones and save tax in the process.
At Deborah Wilkinson & Co we realise that the process of writing your will can sometimes be overwhelming and confusing. Whether you need to draft a simple will or protect more complex assets with tax planning, we provide a friendly, comprehensive and professional service, tailored to our client’s needs. You can make a will online, by post, by phone or in person at our offices in Cheshire.
You can read more about making a will below, why it is important, and some answers to questions that we are frequently asked by our customers.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions about this process, or would like to make an enquiry about your will.
Who needs a Will? Why Should I make a Will?
Everyone needs a will. However, there are particular scenarios where it becomes incredibly important to write a will in order to prevent a very difficult and potentially upsetting situation for those left behind. If you do not make a Will, then your estate gets distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy. These are rules set out by statute law on how an estate will be distributed if there is no legal will, and the outcome may not reflect what you want to happen to your estate or be tax-efficient.
Making a will is particularly important if:
You have young children.
The will should be used to nominate a legal guardian, and set up financial arrangements for the children should both you and your partner both die.
You and your partner are not married or not in a civil partnership.
As the intestacy diagram shows, the law as it currently stands would leave your partner with NO bequest at all, unless the assets are held in Joint names.
Your estate is significantly over the current nil rate band.
If you do not make a will, you can see from the diagram, that your estate may not all go to your spouse. The current nil rate band is £325,000 per person but can be increased up £500,000 if there is a residential property and certain conditions are met.
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Please remember, our offices are easy to get to within the South Cheshire, North Shropshire, Chester, Whitchurch and Malpas areas – Just contact us to arrange a face-to-face appointment or telephone consultation.
Types of Will
Everyone needs a will. However, there are particular scenarios where it becomes incredibly important to write a will in order to prevent a very difficult and potentially upsetting situation for those left behind.
Anyone over the age of 18 can make a Will.
A pair of Wills which reflect the wishes of each other. Most suited to married couples or couples in a Civil Partnership.
Living Wills or Advance Directives:
Many people wish to have a document drawn up which will take effect whilst still living but which sets out certain medical treatments that can or cannot be administered.
Protective Will Property Trusts:
Wills which contain a trust which protects the family home from residential care fees or for protection of the family home on a second marriage. You can read more about Protective Property Trusts here.
Don't put it off any longer...
- A will is not expensive, however, it does determine where your estate goes
- If you are living with a partner in a house, they may be forced out – is this what you really want to happen?
- A will can always be changed
- Do seek good legal advice
- We have put our wills service online to make it easier than ever to protect your estate, start making your will today!
Safe storage of your will
Wills are stored in fireproof safes protected by insurance for £2 million per will.
We are also members of Certainty who have set up a Wills Register for members of the legal profession who offer storage of Wills. See www.certainty.co.uk for further details.
Make a Will FAQ’s
Why should you make a Will?
Making a Will is a task that is often put off, as it’s sometimes difficult to think about what’s going to happen after we die. If you pass away without leaving a Will, the law will determine who inherits your estate, and your particular wishes won’t be taken into consideration. This can often leave your family and friends in a difficult position. You can see how the current law works by using our Intestacy Flowchart.
Leaving a Will gives you peace of mind, and also the opportunity to ensure that your children are provided for financially, & to provide for your dependents (including step-children). If you’re unmarried, a Will enables you to protect your partner and family home. If you have children, a Will enables you to specify who you’d like to take care of them after your death. Leaving a Will enables your wishes to be made clear, for example, you could say who you’d like to look after your pets, give details of your funeral wishes, and you could support a charity by naming it in your Will (which could potentially reduce the amount of inheritance tax payable on your death).
When is the right time to make a Will?
We would advise our clients to make a Will as soon as possible if they don’t already have one, and to revise it on a regular basis. Wills should be re-visited when family or financial circumstances change, so for example: When there’s a new relationship, or a new arrival in the family. Or when there’s a marriage, separation, or divorce (for either yourself, or a beneficiary). Or when you buy a property, or receive a large windfall. Or if your spouse passes away, and your previous Will left your estate to them.
What happens when a person dies without a Will?
When someone dies without leaving a Will, they’re said to have died “intestate”. Their estate will be divided up in line with the rules of intestacy, and so they have no control over who receives their estate. Another consequence is that there won’t be anybody with immediate authority to administer their estate, to gather the assets in (as an Executor named in a Will would do). The law sets out a list of relatives, in order of priority, who can apply to be appointed Administrator and to obtain a Grant of Letters of Administration, to enable them to deal with the estate.
Who inherits when there is no Will?
If there’s no Will, the estate will be distributed in accordance with the intestacy rules. This may mean that the deceased’s blood relatives inherit, even if they didn’t want this to happen. The rules are complex, but if the deceased lived in England/Wales then the following relatives may inherit the estate:
Married partners or civil partners, children, grandchildren & great-grandchildren, parents, brothers & sisters, nieces & nephews, grandparents, uncles & aunts, and half uncles & half aunts.
It’s important to note that the following people are excluded from benefiting under the intestacy rules:
Unmarried partners, relations by marriage e.g. stepchildren, lesbian or gay partners not in a civil partnership, close friends, and carers. If you wish to leave any of your assets to such persons, a Will is essential.
What happens if you die without a Will and with no family?
If you die intestate in England/Wales, with no family to inherit your estate under the intestacy rules, then the law says it will pass to the Crown, as ownerless property. The Treasury Solicitor is then responsible for dealing with the estate.
Who can make a Will?
Anybody in England/Wales who is over the age of 18 and who has “testamentary capacity” can make a Will. There are some exceptions, please contact us for advice.
What does it take for a Will to be valid?
In order for a Will to be valid, it must be in writing (unless classed as a Privileged Will), and it must be signed by yourself and be correctly witnessed by two independent Witnesses.
Who can witness my Will?
A witness must be an independent adult, unrelated to the testator and who has no personal interest in the Will. We would recommend that the following people should NOT be asked to act as Witnesses:
- Your husband or wife, or civil partner, or any other family members
- Any of your Beneficiaries, or their husband or wife or civil partner
- Anybody aged below 18 years, or who is blind or partially sighted, or who doesn’t have
sufficient mental capacity to understand what it is that they’re witnessing
If you wish to sign your Will at home, we always send written instructions as to the correct
procedure to follow when signing and having your signature witnessed.
What should I do with my Will once I have executed it?
Your Will is valid as soon as it is signed by you and witnessed by two witnesses in the correct manner. You can choose to store the Will yourself at home. Alternatively, we offer our clients a will storage facility in our fireproof safes at our office, either on an annual basis or a lifetime basis. We include with the Lifetime Storage Option one free re-write of your Will, during the term of storage.
What is an Executor of a Will?
An Executor is chosen by yourself to administer your estate. They are named in your Will and will become responsible on your death for gathering in your assets, paying any debts or outstanding amounts and tax owed, and then distributing your remaining estate as detailed in your Will. They will apply for a Grant of Probate, where this is required. An Executor can be an individual eg. a friend or family member or can be a professional adviser, trust corporation, or the Public Trustee. (We are happy to act in this capacity should you wish to appoint a professional, and we can act either alone or with additional executors of your choice).
How many Executors can I have?
You can appoint any number, however, no more than four may take out the Grant of Probate in respect of the same property. Executors act jointly, so for practical reasons it’s best not to appoint too many. In practice, two are often appointed in case one should pre-decease you or in case one dies before completing the administration of your estate.
Can an Executor of a Will be a beneficiary?
Yes, they can, and it’s commonplace for an Executor to be one of the named beneficiaries in a Will.
Are beneficiaries entitled to a copy of the Will?
Beneficiaries are not entitled to a copy of any Will before a Grant of Probate has been issued, when the Will becomes a public document.
Who is entitled to see a Will?
After your death, only the Executors appointed in the Will are entitled to see it before probate is granted, when the Will becomes a public document.
Can a valid Will be challenged?
Testators (those writing a Will) in England and Wales can effectively leave their estate to anyone they chose, they’re said to have “testamentary freedom”. However, the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 does allow a Will to be challenged by a specified list of persons if they can show to the Court that a Will fails to make reasonable financial provision for them. The main exception to the concept of testamentary freedom is where the testator was financially maintaining a “dependent” at the time of their death, and that dependent is not provided for, or sufficiently provided for, under their will. There are other specified people who may also be able to make a claim for reasonable financial provision out of an estate, and we can advise on this when we are instructed to prepare a Will.
How can I revoke my previous Will?
A Will can be revoked by burning, tearing, or otherwise destroying it (provided the testator intended to revoke the Will by so doing). It can also be revoked by a later Will. Be aware that marriage automatically revokes any Will made before the marriage, although to prevent this from happening, we can advise how a Will can be made in contemplation of a marriage.
What If I Want to Change My Will?
This can be done for you easily and at any time. If you choose the Lifetime Storage Option when we prepare your original Will, this includes one free re-write of your Will whilst it is stored by us. (All that you need to do is to provide your instructions by telephone, email, or post).
Can You Store My Will?
Yes, if we prepare a Will for you, then we can also provide storage for it in our fireproof safes, with insurance cover of up to £2 million per Will. We offer an Annual Storage Option for an annual fee, or a Lifetime Storage Option for a one-off fee. The Lifetime Storage Option also includes one free re-write of your Will, on the basis that you provide your instructions by email, post, or over the telephone. We are members of Certainty, who have set up a Wills Register for members of the legal profession who offer the storage of Wills.
Why Choose Deborah Wilkinson & Co?
We offer a professional, friendly, personal approach to all of our clients, with confidentiality in all matters. Our fees are extremely competitive, and we are qualified to advise in relation to a wide variety of matters, including the preparation of Wills, Inheritance Tax planning within Wills, Living Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney, Protective Property Trusts, and also Probate matters.
When instructed to prepare a Will, we are usually able to offer face-to-face appointments with clients at our office in Harthill, Cheshire. When travelling to our office is impracticable for whatever reason, we can also take our clients’ instructions over the telephone. We also have a Virtual Service, available at a reduced rate, where clients can provide their instructions via our website.
Once your Will has been executed, we offer a storage facility in our fireproof safes, with insurance cover of up to £2 million per Will. This can be arranged on either an annual basis or a lifetime basis. If the Lifetime Storage Option is selected, this includes one re-write of your Will at no additional cost to yourself. We are members of Certainty, who have set up a Wills Register for members of the legal profession who offer the storage of Wills.