What is a Will?
A Will is a legal document which states your wishes for how your Estate will be dealt with upon your death. Your ‘Estate’ is everything you own/are worth when you die, including all property and possessions and all of the money in your bank/savings accounts. Often your pension and insurance policies are separate to the Will as you usually decide who will receive them when you set them up.
Your Will can include provisions confirming how your possessions and money are to be distributed. Commonly a married couple with adult children, will usually gift everything to each other and then as a default, divide between any children if the other has died first.
Who should make a Will?
If you die without a Will, your assets will be distributed according to law, rather than your wishes. It is particularly important if you are unmarried but living with a partner, as cohabitees are not recognised by law as your next of kin. Similarly, if you are separated but not divorced, your estranged spouse would be entitled to claim your Estate. Even if you are married, don’t assume your spouse will automatically inherit everything. Without a Will, your family will have to go through a legal process to claim your Estate which will cost them £1,000s in legal fees.
Making a Will is relatively straightforward and will usually be done over two appointments. The first appointment will be a fact-finding exercise to give us all the information to draft your Will. You will then be sent a draft of your Will. Once you have approved the draft, a signing appointment will be arranged to finalise your Will.
What will we need to know?
Ahead of our fact-finding appointment, we will send an instruction questionnaire (Form A) to you. It would be helpful if you think about everything you own; any property, cars, personal possessions, stocks, shares, bank accounts, insurance policies, pensions and any business assets.
You should also have a think about who you want to leave your assets to and how you want to divide them amongst your family, friends or even charities. If you have any children under the age of 18, you should consider naming someone as their legal guardian in your Will; in the event that you and their other parent dies before they reach 18. We will also need to know who you want to act as executors to your Will – the people who will carry out your wishes after you have died. These could be friends or relatives and could also be professionals, such as Alexander Legal Services or your accountant/financial adviser.
Where to keep the Will
It is important to keep your Will in a safe place and tell your executors, relatives or close friends where it is. Alexander Legal Services offers a storage service for an annual fee of £7.50 per Will. Other services are also available, such as storing your Will with a bank, the Probate Registry or with the Society of Will Writers.
Keeping your Will up to date
You should review your Will at least every five years and after any major life changes such as separation, marriage, divorce, having a child or moving house. It is best to deal with major changes by getting a new Will made, though it is possible to make minor changes using a document called a codicil.
Types of Wills
Alexander Legal Services offers three types of Wills:
Single Will – a Will for one person, which is suitable for anyone who is unmarried;
Mirror Will – a Will for a couple with similar provisions, such as a Will for a husband and wife or cohabitees;
Trust Will – A Will which also includes a Trust, for example allowing someone else to live in your property after you pass away, without them owning it. Further information on Trust Wills is included in this booklet.
Contact us today for a no obligation appointment to discuss your Will.