Planning for the future and certainly planning for when we die can be a daunting exercise and something that many people feel that they can put off until further down the line. Some people do not like the idea of ‘tempting fate’ and prefer not to discuss the matter at all, whilst others do not think that they will ever need to re-visit their Will once it is done and dusted.
What if I do not currently have a valid Will in place?
If you do not have a valid Will in place, your estate (your assets, less your debts) will be distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy.
Worryingly, many people wrongly presume that their estate will automatically pass to their partner or their children. The likelihood is that most people’s circumstances necessitate them having a valid Will in place.
Think about your circumstances:
Are you living with a partner but are not married? – how will you ensure that your partner is catered for? If have a Will in place and then decide to get married, is the marriage going to revoke your Will?
Are you separated or divorced from a former spouse? – is your ex-partner going still going to benefit from your estate?
Do you have step-children whom you would want to benefit from your estate? – your step-children will not automatically be provided for under the rules of intestacy
Is there somebody you wish to exclude from benefiting from your estate? – do you need to make a Will in order to specifically exclude them and have you received advice with regards to the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975?
If you have a Will in place, have you had more children since executing it? – does your Will make provision for all of your children? Are they minors, or over the age of 18 years?
Have your financial circumstances changed? – will your death give rise to an inheritance tax liability? Do you have sufficient assets within your estate to make payment of any pecuniary legacies if you have a Will in place already?
If one or more of the above apply to you, you should consider putting a Will in place or reviewing your existing arrangements in order to ensure that your wishes are catered for.
Do I need a solicitor to prepare my Will for me?
Many people worry about the cost of instructing a solicitor to prepare their Will(s), and are often surprised when they learn how inexpensive it can be to do so.
Whilst a Will writing pack from your local shop or a template which you can download from the internet may seem an attractive and low cost option, the implications of a poorly drafted or homemade Will can be extensive. The Will may not meet the necessary legal formalities in order for it to be valid, or may contain clauses which mean that the nature of the Will does not actually reflect the intention of the person making it. Put simply, using these methods mean that you do not benefit from the advice of a legal practitioner who specialises in this area.
At Stephensons we offer four different levels of Will, starting from £149 for a single person. We are happy to have a no obligation chat with you to discuss which level of Will would be most suitable for your circumstances, and offer fixed fee advice appointments to discuss your options if you are undecided.
How often should I think about updating my Will?
Generally, you should re-visit your Will every two years or upon the event of a life changing event. Even if your wishes ultimately remain the same, it is good practice to be mindful of your family and financial circumstances and to seek the advice of a practitioner who specialises in this area if your situation does change.