What is a Will?
A will is a legal document which confirms your wishes for how your estate should 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. You may decide to also include specific gifts in your will, such as a sum of money to a relative or charity, or a piece of jewellery to someone.
What Types of Wills are available?
Single Will (£150)
A standard will for one person, which is suitable for anyone who is unmarried.
Mirror Will (£200)
A standard will for two people, usually married couples with very similar wishes.
Single Will Trust (£270)
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.
Mirror Will Trust (£320)
A document, similar in appearance to a will, which is used to make minor changes.
No VAT is currently charged on our services.
Why make a Will?
If you pass away 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 could potentially claim your estate. Even if you are married, don’t assume your spouse will automatically inherit everything. Without a will, your estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy.
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 required to draft your will. You will then be sent a draft of your will, for approval and once approved, a signing appointment will be arranged. To be valid, your will must be signed in the presence of two independent witnesses (over the age of 18, not related to you and not included as a beneficiary in your will).
What will we need to know?
Ahead of our fact-finding appointment, we will send you an instruction questionnaire (Form A). 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. It’s especially important to let us know if you own property jointly with anyone, as depending on the type of ownership, the property could pass outside of your will.
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 of your will – the people who will carry out your wishes. These could be friends or relatives and could also be professionals, such as Alexander Legal Services.
We will also need to know if you are planning to exclude anyone from your will who would otherwise expect to receive inheritance from you, for example this may be an estranged spouse or child. We need to know this so we can advise you on the risk of your will being challenged.
Inheritance Tax (IHT)
We will also discuss IHT, which is why there is a section in the questionnaire on the current value of your estate. Values will change over time, but we can advise on the likelihood of IHT being payable, based on current values, as well as provide suitable advice for potentially mitigating your IHT liability.
Reviewing your Will
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’s best to deal with major changes by getting a new will made, though it is possible to make minor changes using a codicil.
As part of our ongoing service, we will regularly contact clients (usually every three to five years) to offer a free review.
Storing your Will
Once your will is signed, you should store it in a safe place and ensure your executors / next of kin know where to find it. We offer a secure storage service for an annual fee of £15 per will. Not only will it be stored safely by us, but clients who store their will and need to change it in the future, will benefit from free, unlimited updates. It also means we’re ready placed to provide your executors and family any support, and advice they need when the will is being collected, after you have passed away.
Make your Will online
If you already know what you want and your wishes are straightforward, you can also click here to make your Will online. This is a discounted service which does not include any appointments (you can still request an appointment but an additional fee will be charged).