A will guarantees your estate is distributed, handled and prioritise exactly to your wishes after you have departed from the living world. It is a net constructed of your instructions to protect your interest even after death, it reduces family conflicts and confusions providing you with a peace of mind in this world whilst providing for your loved ones after death.
What is a will and estate planning?
A will is a legal document expressing the wishes of a testator, person making the will, in regards to how they want their estate to be handled. An estate is not only limited to a person’s property it involves everything from your finances, stocks, property, possessions and assets. The importance of estate planning comes in when you think about future proofing your assets and putting in place a protection system for your loved ones and possessions after you have died.
Why you should make a will
The issue of wills and inheritance could be dire and heavy for some, however it is very important the topic of writing a will is proper discussed with all parties involved to ease complications in the future. When you make a will you legally guarantee the people of your choice or causes you care about benefit from your estate.
If you do not make a will it affects the amount of inheritance tax imposed on your surviving spouse or the Residential tax on surviving descendants.
Wills do not all need to deal with everything until the point of death, you can also leave behind specific rules and directions to me arranged for your funeral. Other reasons include:
- A clear, detailed, written will aids in avoiding disputes and reduces confusion between the parties involved.
- It is a system which guarantees your wishes are respected and executed after you have died
- If you are unmarried or not in a civil partnership, you can write a will stating your partner gets what you want them to, otherwise they have no automatic right to this.
- It is a protection which protects your assets for future generations
What if I do not make a will?
Opting to not write a will allows for discord between families and an uncertain future for your loved ones. Get in contact with any of our specialised wills and probate solicitors to get your affairs in order and protect your estate from uncertainty and despair.
In legal terms dying without a will is known as having died ‘intestate’ which leads to your estate being divided up according to the rules of intestacy. This means that control is taken away from you and limits any personal decisions regarding the distribution of your assets or estate.
The rules of intestacy states:
- Your spouse or civil partner inherits ALL of your personal possessions and the first £250,000 of your estate and 50% any thing above it.
- Your children are entitled to the remaining 50%.
- If you are unmarried or not in a civil partnership your partners have no automatic right without your written will.
- Outside of of spouse and children, other relatives inherit your estate
The intestacy rules are an elimination process going through your family, until finally if you have no surviving relatives or family your estate is inherited by the crown. This means that not only do you not have any control over the distribution of your estate in leaving it to people it means that if you had a cause you cared for you estate will not be passed to them.
Who can make a will?
Anyone who wishes to have their estate divided and distributed to the right people and the charities they care for.
Valuing your estate
It is best if your will covers the entirety of your estate in detail, therefore it is advised to construct a list of all our assets and debts in order to gain a clearer understanding of the value of your estate when it comes down to deciding how to distribute your estate.
The type of assets that should be considered regarding your estate should include:
- Your home, and any other property you own
- Savings in bank and building society accounts
- National Savings, such as premium bonds
- Insurance, such as life assurance or an endowment policy
- Pension funds that include a lump sum payment on death
- Investments such as stocks and shares or investment trusts
- Motor vehicles
- Jewellery, antiques and other personal belongings
- Furniture and other household contents.
Another important aspect to consider are debts, you must gather all the available information on your debts, to inhibit them from creating issues later when your estate is being distributed.
Debts can consist of:
- A mortgage or equity release
- A credit card balance
- A bank overdraft
Please note: For these purposes, it is important to have your estate valued regularly due to the fluctuating changes in price or pension funds throughout the years.
How do I make a will.
It is important that you think long and hard about the contents of your will. Because of the binding legal power it has on surviving family members and loved ones. Your will be clear and detailed and lay out everything you want done with your estate, the issue of inheritance and who you want to leave prized possessions to. It is important that your will is written well and signed properly so as to eliminate confusion and make matters smooth when the time of your death comes.
There are no set route to take in writing a will, people have a variety of options available to them and it is important to consider more than one when you finally go to make your will.
You can make your own through self help kits and forms that are available through stationary shops and online. This however is not the most recommended, especially without prior knowledge as it is easy to make mistakes and miss important details. For this purpose it is probably best to seek professionals who are experienced in handling wills and probate topics
You can construct a will through the will-writing services at a bank; not all banks offer this service and is best to contact your local bank to ask about writing up for more information.
This is the most common and best as it comes with a layer of safety in ensuring your will writing process is handled and dealt with by professionals who have knowledge and expertise in this field. The most important thing to make sure when enlisting the series of a solicitor or lawyer is to check that they are certified and regulated by the SRA. Solicitors can charge expensive hourly fees for their service, at Stirling Ackroyd Legal our certified and SRA regulated solicitors have a fixed price for the use of our services.
Free wills month
This is an annual campaign taking place throughout England and Wales every March and October. This is a collaboration between a number of charities offering over 55s the opportunity to have their wills written or updated for free by a participating solicitor. Visit their website for more information regarding charities taking part and specific dates.
Another campaign to get help is the Wills aid which runs in November each year. You will have to have made a donation, used to support the participating charities.
What to include
The key thing about writing a will is that it is clear regarding the fate of your estate. It should also include:
- Who you want to benefit from your will
- Whether you wish to give any specific gifts to particular people
- Where the residue of the estate is to go (any property or money left over after paying funeral and administrative expenses, legacies and taxes)
- What you want to happen if any of your beneficiaries should die before you
- Whether you wish to leave any money to charity
- Who will deal with your estate after your death.
Signing a will
It goes without saying, the most important part when writing a will is to make sure the document has been signed properly and by the right people. An incorrectly signed document invalidate the will.
You can appoint someone to be the executor of your will. This is a person or a body of people who are charged with making sure that your wishes are carried out exactly as you have specified.
Speak to a Solicitor today
As a Mortgage Broker, we’ve been delighted to work with Stirling Ackroyd Legal to serve our clients who always exceed expectations. – Rainstone Money
As an investor who’s been purchasing properties, I’m glad to say that on this occasion Stirling Ackroyd Legal have been delightful to work with. – Terry Long
I was surprised they have a Polish conveyancer to help with my mum’s property purchase. Made life very easy. – Mateusz Dabrovski
I’ve used Stirling Ackroyd Legal a few times before. The staff are attentive and always advising me on the pertinent issues regarding my matter. – Sally O’brian
I’ve been with Stirling Ackroyd Legal for over 4 years who have managed my commercial and litigation matters. – Syed Ahmed
14Thank you to Stirling Ackroyd Legal’s Corporate team for helping set up my company’s employment contracts. An excellent service. – Alex Bower
Check Out Our Blog
A Trust is a legal agreement between three parties. This agreement is a way of managing your assets. These could include things such as your finances, investments, land or property purchases.
Trusts involve three parties…
Here at Stirling Ackroyd Legal we understand that Inheritance tax (IHT) may be an uncomfortable subject.
At present, there are three occasions upon which IHT may be charged:
Upon death, where the deceased’s estate is transferred to beneficiaries via their…