Making a Will – six important questions to think about

Category: Estate Planning, Lasting Power of Attorney, Probate, Wills

Making a Will can often seem an uncomfortable exercise. But it’s vitally important. It’s an excellent opportunity to review your estate as well as making sure those you hold dear are looked after. Many clients describe how relieved they are after preparing their Will. And if you’ve had a look at our Google Reviews recently, you’ll see how many of our clients appreciate the guidance and support they received from our team at Nash and Co Solicitors. We are able to offer sound expertise and efficient service delivered in plain English.

A Will offers you the choice and control in how your assets are dealt with. At the same time, importantly, it makes your wishes valid and binding.

It’s also a time to consider complimentary areas such as Pensions, and Life Insurances. Increasingly important now is your digital legacy. For example, who receives your online music library or photos. It also means making sure someone can securely terminate your email addresses and social media accounts to ensure that your affairs are dealt with sensitively.

We thought it would be helpful to answer some commonly asked questions that you may find interesting:

Do I need a Will if my spouse or civil partner will receive my estate anyway?

If you’re married or in a civil partnership and die without a Will, strict rules called intestacy will apply. This means that if you have children then your spouse/ civil partner will receive the first £270,000 of your estate together with all personal effects. The remainder would be split – half between your children and half to your spouse/civil partner.

This could clearly cause significant complications if your estate exceeds £270,000. Even if it doesn’t, the preparation of a Will offers a chance to consider other family members such as your children (you may not share children with your spouse/ civil partner), stepchildren, pets, charities or other dependents.

If you have young children and were to die at the same time as your spouse/ civil partner a Will allows you to name who you would like to look after your children. If you don’t have children, it manages who receives from you. Without this, your estate could be passed to unforeseen family members under the intestacy rules.

How can a Will help to look after my partner?

If you are not married or in a civil partnership, your partner will not automatically receive your estate. This could cause them financial difficulty, arguments in the family or their home being taken away from them. A Will seeks to resolve all of these problems by making your wishes clear.

You should also consider your inheritance tax position. This can be quite unfair for unmarried couples but can be mitigated with careful planning in your Will.

What happens if I have children from a previous relationship?

While considering your Will you should consider the most important people in your life. You should also be ensuring that your children are looked after and protected. Working together with our clients, we can explore how this can be done efficiently and securely. For example, there are options to include trust arrangements so that your children will ultimately receive your estate. This can be done without affecting the lifestyle of your current spouse or partner. This would be the case even if they were to remarry or form another relationship.

I have my own business, how can a Will help?

By making a Will, you can ensure the right people are appointed to protect the future of your business. We can also explore how you can transfer your business in a tax-efficient manner to your beneficiaries. This can be done considering the inheritance tax reliefs available.

It may be that you have family members directly involved with the running of the business. They may even be co-owners. So making sure that you have a properly constructed Will can help prevent problems for them at a difficult time.

Should I use a solicitor to make a Will?

Our solicitors will make sure that you have a correctly drafted Will. This will consider your circumstances, assets and family while being executed in a valid and binding manner. Once the Will is signed we can store it for safekeeping, free of charge.

We help you to explore your inheritance tax planning opportunities and make sure your beneficiaries are protected under your Will. An incorrectly drafted Will can mean some beneficiaries lose out. And having a Will rectified after you die is a costly and time-consuming exercise.

Do I need a power of attorney?

We would recommend everyone have Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) in place. This is regardless of how old you are and allows you to choose who manages your affairs if you are unable to (through illness, incapacity or perhaps even being abroad). If you run a company or have people who depend on you it’s essential that you have LPAs in place. LPAs appoint a trusted person to ensure bills are paid and those who rely on you are protected. The more we can help avoid disruption, the better.

There are two different types of LPA; LPA for Property and Financial affairs and LPA for Health and Welfare.

LPA for Property and Financial Affairs. This directly affects things such as buying or selling property and dealing with bank accounts.

LPA for Health and Welfare Matters. This allows your attorneys to make decisions about day to day care and healthcare treatment. It also governs who has access to your personal information. You can appoint different people to deal with your personal affairs and business affairs. We can draft the documents to suit your individual circumstances.

If an LPA is needed and you don’t have one, a court of protection application would need to be sought. This is a lot more costly and complex than setting up LPAs. It would be the only option for a person to apply to appoint themselves to act on your behalf. This is a choice that you have not made and that can result in significant delay in managing your affairs.

What Now?

Our team would be glad to talk through your circumstance. We are able to offer a video meeting or chat by telephone. We are also able to offer socially distanced meetings in our office if you would prefer this. Nash & Co have spent a lot of time and effort ensuring client and staff safety for office visits.

Please feel free to contact Alice Carter-Tyler on 01752 827027 ([email protected]) or David Cornelius on 01752 827076 ([email protected])who are happy to answer any questions you may have.