A Will is a legal document that sets out your wishes as to what should happen to your estate on your death.

It can provide security for your children and dependents and avoid the stress and costs of applying to the courts should you die without one.

Why do you need a Will?

It is always recommended that you have a valid Will because:

  • If you do not make a Will the law decides who receives your assets (ie property, possessions and money)
  • Without a Will, a surviving wife may not receive all of her husband’s estate and vice versa.
  • If you are in a cohabitational relationship and do not leave a Will, the law will not make provision for your partner, resulting in her or him having to make an expensive and lengthy application to Court.
  • If you make a Will you can appoint someone you trust to deal with your estate.
  • You can leave gifts and monies to your chosen beneficiaries.
  • Your Will can include tailored provisions for children and dependents who may not be able to manage money for themselves.
  • You can appoint guardians for children under 18 years.
  • At the same time as making a Will, advice can be given in relation to the impact of care home fees and whether or not you should attempt to protect your estate from these.
  • You can make clear to your family and friends what you want to happen to your estate to prevent misunderstandings.
  • You can ensure that your Will is tax efficient and avoids unnecessary Inheritance Tax liabilities.

Please click on the following videos to hear Catherine talk about various aspects of Wills.

The benefits of Trustees in a Will:

The importance of a Will if you have children:

 Reviewing your Will

We recommend you review your Will every two to three years as it should be updated to reflect any change in your circumstances, especially:

  • If you are contemplating marriage or re-marriage, as your existing Will will be automatically revoked when you marry.
  • If you have recently divorced or separated but not yet divorced, your existing Will will not automatically be revoked and the surviving partner may still inherit from the Will if it has not been amended.
  • If you are buying a property in joint names.
  • If anyone mentioned in your Will has died.
  • If there are new family members you would like to include in your Will.
  • If there have been any major changes in your financial circumstances, such as an inheritance.,
  • If there has been changes in the law relating to Inheritance Tax.

If you do not have a Will

  • Your estate will be distributed in accordance with the Law of Intestacy.
  • If you have no relatives your whole estate could go to the Crown!
  • A widow may not automatically inherit all her husband’s estate and vice versa.
  • Cohabitees will not benefit regardless of how long they have been living together.
  • A Grant of Letters of Administration has to be obtained appointing Personal Representatives to administer the estate.

Please click below to listen to Catherine talk about Intestacy:

Avoiding disputes

If a person is not provided for under the intestacy rules, or if they consider that the amount they will receive under the Will is not sufficient, they might be able to bring a claim against the estate to ensure they receive a share or a greater proportion of it. The claimant has to fall within very specific categories to be able to bring a claim and must do so within six months of the Grant of Probate.
The possibility of a successful claim can be reduced if there is an attachment to the Will giving specific reasons why a certain person has not inherited and why the estate has gone elsewhere. It is advisable to seek legal advice if you believe there may be a claim against your estate.
Please click here for information concerning a disputed Will.

Bringing your Will into the 21st century

In an ever-increasing digital age, it would be wise to consider recording with your Will such information as passwords to social media, email accounts and download accounts etc. A password dossier would enable families to disable accounts where necessary and to assist in taking control of day-to-day items such as online utility accounts.
Many people store information, photographs and other data in external “cloud” accounts which cannot be accessed without the correct passwords.
By giving it some thought and careful planning now, you can help spare family members the headache of trying to unravel your digital life after you have gone.

Solicitors and Will Writers — the difference

Many people are under the false impression a ‘Will writer’ is a solicitor. Unlike solicitors, Will writers do not have to undergo any training or have insurance. They are not regulated to ensure that they conduct their activities in the interests of the consumer and provide some form of redress if things go wrong

Please click here to read more about a Panorama investigation into the dangers of using Will Writers to produce your will.

Probate

Probate is the administration of a person’s estate upon death.

If you have a Will your Executor applies for a Grant of Probate.
This enables the Executor to administer the estate.
If your estate is small it may be possible to administer the estate without a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration.

Please note — For our Probate services we charge an hourly rate and, unlike many banks and other law firms, we do not charge an additional fee based on the value of the estate.

Our Wills and Probate Team can provide these services:

  • Wills (free storage)
  • Inheritance Tax planning
  • Powers of Attorney, including Lasting Powers of Attorney
  • Court of Protection
  • Probate
  • Intestacy and Letters of Administration
  • Elderly client expertise
  • Post Death Variations
  • Severance of Joint Tenancies
  • Advice in relation to care home fees

Our experienced team will help you plan ahead and offer support and guidance through difficult times. You can feel reassured that your work will be carried out professionally and with sensitivity.

 Information for the Chinese Community

Please click here for information and videos in Chinese on Wills and LPAs.

For more information and advice please call our Wills & Probate Team on 01689 822554 or email wills@thomasdunton.co.uk

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