More than half of UK adults don’t have a Will, but it’s something you really shouldn’t put off. If you don’t have a Will, then your estate may not be divided the way you would wish should you pass away. You also risk making the process of dealing with your estate much more complicated and stressful for your loved ones.
Over the many years our team have been advising people on making Wills, we have found that people often have many of the same questions. To take some of the uncertainty out of the process of making a Will, we have answered some of the most common questions about making a Will that we get asked.
Have a question we haven’t answered below? Please get in touch with our specialist Will solicitors in Staffordshire now by calling 01785 603060 or 01889 803080 or sending us an email.
Does everyone need a Will?
Many people think they only need to make a Will when they get married or buy their first home, but the reality is that everyone should think about making a Will.
It’s often only when people come to make a Will that they realise all the different assets they have that would need to be dealt with in the event of their death. Whether it be savings, your car, furniture or any other assets, these things have value and someone will need to decide what happens to them if you were to pass away.
Making a Will removes any uncertainty and can make things much simpler and less stressful for whoever has to deal with your estate.
Do you need a lawyer to make a Will?
In theory, you can make a Will yourself, sometimes referred to as a ‘DIY Will’ and there are various Will templates online that people sometimes use when doing this. However, you are taking a significant risk by not having the advice of a legal expert when making your Will.
The problem with using a DIY Will template is that they are very general and not tailored to your circumstances, so it is highly likely that important issues may not be considered. A legal professional can ensure your Will reflects your needs and those of your loved ones, as well as ensuring that all of the legal details are correctly covered so your Will is legally sound.
An expert Will writing solicitor can also advise you on issues such as reducing your Inheritance Tax liability as well as any other specific issues you need help with, such as making sure any children under 18 or vulnerable loved one’s are provided for.
How much does it cost to make a Will?
The cost of making a Will generally depends on the complexity of your estate and any specific issues that need to be considered.
In some cases, we can offer a fixed fee Will writing service for straightforward estates, giving you certainty over the costs involved.
Where there are more complex issues to deal with, we will work to a pre-agreed hourly rate with all billable work agreed in advance. This means you can get exactly the support you need for your Will and stay in control of the costs at all times.
To find out more about our Will pricing, please get in touch.
What are the requirements for a Will to be valid?
For a Will to be considered legally valid, the following conditions must be met, the person making the Will (the ‘testator’) must:
- Be 18 or over
- Be ‘of sound mind’ i.e. fully aware of and able to understand the contents of the Will
- Not be under pressure to make the Will
The Will itself must be:
- In writing
- Signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses*
- Signed by the two witnesses in the presence of the testator
* The witnesses must not be beneficiaries of the Will or married to beneficiaries of the Will.
It is also recommended to make sure the Will is dated, although this is not a legal requirement. Including the date the Will is signed can help to avoid disputes over which is the most up-to-date version of a person’s Will if more than one version exists.
What assets should be included in a Will?
Anything of value that you own or have a financial interest in should be included in your Will, including:
- Shares and investments
- Insurance policies
- Intellectual property
Who inherits if there is no Will?
If you do not leave a valid Will, then who inherits will be determined by the government’s rules of intestacy. This sets out exactly who will inherit based on the value of your estate, whether you are married or in a civil partnership, whether you have children and what other relatives you have.
Generally, the rules of intestacy favour spouses and civil partners in the first instance, then children, then other relatives such as parents, siblings, aunts and uncles. This can cause problems, for example, if you have remarried and have children from a previous relationship who could lose out in favour of your new spouse.
Where should I store my Will?
It’s really important that your Executors are able to access your Will when you pass away, so you need to store it somewhere safe and accessible. It is normal to have the solicitor who made the Will for you keep a copy and you can also lodge a copy with your Probate Service for a small fee.
Make sure your Executors know where your Will is stored so that when they need it, they can easily get hold of it.
It is not a good idea to store your Will in a safety deposit box as your Executors will only be able to access this once probate has been granted, but they cannot apply for probate without your Will.
Can my Will be contested?
If you have a valid, up-to-date Will at the time of your death, it is hard for anyone to successfully contest it. However, there are certain limited circumstances where a challenge may be possible.
Dependants of yours can potentially make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 if they think your will does not make ‘reasonable provision’ for them.
What is considered reasonable provision will depend on the circumstances, but these types of claims can often be avoided by discussing the contents of your Will and your intentions with your dependants, ensuring they know what to expect from your estate.
Who should be the Executor of my Will?
You can name anyone aged over 18 as the Executor of your Will, including people who are beneficiaries of the Will.
It is normal to name at least two Executors and you can name up to four. This helps to ensure there is likely to be someone to carry out the role, even if one of your named Executors is unable to do so.
It is also common to name a solicitor or other professional as an Executor. This ensures there will definitely be someone to carry out the role and that probate will be handled by someone with legal expertise, ensuring the process goes ahead smoothly.
Our solicitors are happy to act as professional Executors where required, so if you are interested in this service, please mention this when discussing your Will with our team.
Do I need to consider Inheritance Tax in my Will?
It is often possible to reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax due on your estate by making the right provisions in your Will. This could include setting up a trust to hold assets such as your home, as well as considering issues such as making gifts during your lifetime.
When should I update my Will?
It is normal to update your Will when the value of your estate changes significantly or where you have a major change in personal circumstances.
Common situations where you may need to update your Will include when:
- You buy property
- You receive a substantial inheritance
- You start a business
- You get married
- You get divorced
- You have children
Need help creating or updating your Will?
Contact our specialist Will solicitors in Staffordshire now by calling 01785 603060 or 01889 803080 or sending us an email.