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Wills, Probate & Estate Planning

Making a Will

Making a Will is an essential aspect of life planning that is so often overlooked.  Without one, your loved ones could face disruption and more heartache than they are already experiencing after you pass away.

Our experienced and dedicated team understands the importance of securing your future and will work with you with compassion and professionalism to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.

We will work closely with you to understand your specific circumstances and tailor a comprehensive Will that reflects your wishes. Whether you think you need a simple Will or a complex one with multiple assets and beneficiaries, we are here to help and can provide advice on the following aspects in connection with your Will:-

  • Appointing Executors and Trustees
  • Appointing Guardians of minor children
  • Giving effect to your funeral wishes
  • Minimising any Inheritance Tax (IHT) liability
  • Protecting your assets
  • Wills incorporating Trusts
  • Dealing with foreign property
  • Protecting vulnerable beneficiaries
  • Avoiding family disputes

We pride ourselves on providing a professional and approachable service, ensuring that the process of writing your Will is as stress-free as possible.

Here, we answer several of the most frequently asked questions in relation to making a Will.  Should you have any further questions or an additional query about our Will writing service, contact your local Wills, Probate and Estate Planning department today.

Writing a Will Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I write a Will?

We know that the thought of writing a Will won’t be the most pleasant one, but it is an essential step to ensure that your assets and belongings are distributed according to your wishes after you pass away. There are several important reasons why you should write a Will.

  • Firstly, Will writing allows you to have control over what happens to your assets after you pass away. Without a Will, you will be dying intestate, which means your property and possessions will be distributed according to intestacy laws. By creating a Will, you can ensure that your assets are given to the people or organisations you choose, such as family members, friends, or charities.
  • Secondly, making a Will can help to avoid disputes among family members. When there is no clear direction on how to distribute your assets, it can lead to disagreements and conflict among your loved ones. A Will provides clear instructions about who should receive what, reducing the likelihood of family disputes and legal battles.
  • Thirdly, preparing a Will is essential if you have children under the age of 18. You can name a guardian for your children in the event that both parents pass away, ensuring that they will be taken care of by someone you trust. Without a Will, the Court will decide who will be the legal guardian of your children, which may not be the person you would have chosen. Due to the serious nature of this event, the Court will still decide who the legal guardian of minor children will be even when there is a Will present, however, appointing guardians in your Will gives the Court a clear indication of who you would want this to be. Many people think god-parents will become legal guardians of your children but this is not the case.

What does dying intestate mean?

Dying intestate means passing away without a valid Will in place. This means that your assets and belongings will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy, which are set out by law. These rules dictate who your assets will go to and in what order, depending on your family circumstances at the time of your death.

Under the rules of intestacy, if you have a spouse or civil partner but no children, then your entire estate will go to them. If you have children, then your spouse or civil partner will inherit the first £322,000 of your estate, plus half of the remaining balance. The other half of the remaining balance will be split equally between your children.

If you are unmarried and have no children, then your estate will be distributed to your surviving relatives in a specific order set out by law. This may include your parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other more distant relatives.

It is important to note that dying intestate can lead to your assets being distributed in a way that does not align with your wishes. For example, if you have a partner that you are not married to but want to inherit a specific asset, they will not be entitled to it under the rules of intestacy. Similarly, if you have stepchildren or close friends that you want to inherit from your estate, they will not be entitled to anything if you die intestate.

What key things should I include in a Will?

First and foremost, your Will should clearly state how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. This includes any property, money, and possessions that you own. You should be as specific as possible about who you want to inherit each asset and how you want it to be divided. If you have any specific requests or instructions, such as charitable donations or specific funeral arrangements, you should include these as well.

It is also important to name an Executor in your Will. This is the person who will be responsible for carrying out the wishes outlined in your Will after you pass away. They will be responsible for handling your estate, distributing your assets, and ensuring that your wishes are carried out. Make sure that you choose someone who you trust to carry out this important role.

If you have children who are under the age of 18, you should also name a guardian, who will be responsible for looking after your children if you pass away before they reach adulthood.

What are the requirements of a valid Will?

First and foremost, you must normally be 18 years of age or over and must have the mental capacity to make a Will (unless making a Privileged Will). This means that you must understand the nature and effect of making a Will, and be able to make decisions about how you want your assets to be distributed.

The Will must also be in writing and signed by you in the presence of two independent witnesses who are both over the age of 18. The witnesses must then sign the Will with you present, and they should not be beneficiaries or married to beneficiaries named in the Will. A Will witnessed by beneficiaries or spouses of beneficiaries will still be valid but the beneficiaries will be unable to inherit under the Will.

It is important to note that the witnesses must be present at the same time when you sign the Will, and they must be able to see the signature being made.

In addition to these requirements, the Will must be clear and unambiguous in its terms. It should clearly identify you and your wishes for the distribution of your assets. If there are any doubts or inconsistencies in the Will, this can lead to legal disputes and challenges to its validity.

Finally, it is important to keep the original copy of the Will in a safe and secure place, such as with a solicitor or in a fireproof safe. This will ensure that the Will can be easily located and that there is no dispute about its validity.

Can I write my Will myself or do I need a solicitor?

There are ways that you can write a Will yourself, however we would strongly recommend seeking legal advice as making your own Will can be a complex and potentially risky process, and speaking to a professional can help you identity questions or potential issues that you may not have identified on your own.

If your Will is not written correctly, it may not be legally valid, which can cause problems for your loved ones after you pass away. In addition, if there are any disputes or challenges to the Will, it can be more difficult to defend it if it was not written by a professional.

If you have a complex estate, if you have any doubts about the legal validity of your Will, or if you want to include any trusts or tax planning arrangements, it is recommended that you seek the advice of a professional.

A solicitor for a Will can also provide valuable guidance and advice on how to structure your Will to ensure that your wishes are carried out and that your estate is distributed in the most tax-efficient manner possible.

When do I need to update my Will?

It is important to update your Will if your personal circumstances change, for example, if you get married or enter into a civil partnership, any previous Will you may have made will be automatically invalidated, unless it specifically states that it was made in contemplation of the marriage or civil partnership. In this case, you will need to make a new Will to reflect your new relationship status.

Similarly, if you get divorced or dissolve a civil partnership, you may need to update your Will to reflect this change. Once divorced, your former spouse will no longer be able to inherit under your Will but their appointment as an Executor, if applicable, will remain.

Other personal circumstances that may require an update to your Will include the birth of a child or grandchild, the death of a beneficiary, or any significant changes to your financial situation or assets.

Finally, it is recommended that you review your Will regularly, even if your personal circumstances have not changed; we would recommend doing this every 5 years. This can help to ensure that your Will remains up-to-date and accurately reflects your wishes.

Can I leave money to charity in my Will?

Leaving money to charity in your Will is becoming an increasingly popular way to support causes that are important to you. By leaving a charitable donation in your Will, you can make a lasting impact on the causes you care about and support the work of charities long after you have passed away.

There are two main ways that you can leave money to charity in your Will:

1. Making a specific bequest, which involves leaving a fixed amount of money or a particular asset to a charity of your choice.

2. Leaving a residuary bequest, which involves leaving a percentage of your estate to one or more charities. This can be a good option if you want to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of first, but also want to support charity with whatever is left over.

It is worth noting that leaving money to charity in your Will can also have some tax benefits. In the UK, donations to charities are exempt from Inheritance Tax, so leaving money to charity in your Will can help to reduce the tax liability on your estate. Also, if you leave at least 10% of your net estate to charity you will benefit from a reduced rate of Inheritance Tax (36% compared to the normal 40%).

We would recommend you seek legal advice if you are considering donating to charity in your Will, as we can provide guidance on the best way to structure your donation to maximise the benefits for both your loved ones and the charity.

Can I include digital assets in my Will?

When it comes to writing a Will, many people think about their physical assets such as property, money, and possessions. However, with the rise of digital technology, it is becoming increasingly important to consider your digital assets as well.

Digital assets can include items such as social media accounts, email accounts, digital files including photos and videos, cryptocurrency, and online banking or investment accounts. These assets can have both financial and sentimental value, so it is important to ensure that they are included in your estate planning.

You should also keep in mind that the laws around digital assets are still evolving and can be complicated. For example, social media platforms have their own policies around what happens to accounts after the owner passes away, so you should check their terms and conditions before making any specific provisions in your Will.

When it comes to digital assets such as online banking accounts, ensure that your Executor has access to the necessary information and passwords to be able to access these assets after you pass away. One way to do this is to create a digital asset inventory that includes details of all your digital assets, including login credentials and passwords. You can then include instructions in your Will about how you want these assets to be managed or distributed.

It is advisable to keep your digital asset inventory up-to-date and ensure that any changes are reflected in your Will. For example, if you change your password for an online account, you will need to update your inventory and your will accordingly.

Contact our Wills Solicitors

To discuss any further questions you have or an additional query about our Will writing service, get in touch with our Wills, Probate and Estate Planning team, who are based in our offices in, AndoverRomseySalisburyTotton or Witney. Contact them today by using the Contact Form, emailing or calling your local office: