Ensure your affairs are in order with a Will

Posted 23rd January 2023

With New Year plans in progress, we spoke to Solicitor Charlotte Pinkham at Wilson Browne Solicitors about getting your affairs in order with a Will.

Do I really need a Will?
This is the most common question I get asked, especially from married couples as it is often assumed that everything will simply pass to the surviving spouse. However, if you do not have a Will in place, under the rules in England and Wales, you are deemed as passing intestate meaning it is then left to the intestacy rules to determine who benefits from your estate. Another aspect to note is that un-married partners and co-habitees are not recognised under the intestacy rules and so your partner would not benefit from anything in your estate. If you want control over who inherits from your estate and peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be respected after your death, then you need to have a Will in place.

What should I include in my Will?
Your Will should deal with how you wish everything you own to be distributed on your death. This is from the small things such as jewellery, personal belongings and car to the bigger assets such as your property, savings, investments, policies and much more. Within your Will you can state who you wish your beneficiaries to be and the percentage or amount you wish for them to inherit. This can include anyone of your choice from your spouse, children, friends, charities to name a few.

Can I change my Will if I need too?
Yes of course, you can change your Will at any time as long as you have mental capacity and understanding of what you are changing. We understand that your personal circumstances change, and we advise that you review your Will every 4-5 years to ensure it still meets with your current wishes.

When does my Will come into effect?
Once you have approved the contents of your Will, you are then in a position to sign the document. For a Will to be legal you need to sign and date in the presence of two independent witnesses who are also required to sign and provide their details. Once all parties have signed, the Will is legal from that point

How does my Will get put into place?
This is the responsibility of your Executors that you have named in your Will and is why careful consideration is needed when choosing your Executors. They are responsible for executing your Will and administering your whole estate.

Anyone of your choice can be your Executor and you can have up to four named in your Will. This could be your spouse, partner, children, friends, a firm of Solicitors to name a few.

I have a Will in place so does that mean my estate doesn’t have to go through Probate?
Again, this is a common question I often get asked from clients. Probate is the process of proving that a Will is valid and confirming who has authority to administer the estate of the deceased. If the deceased’s estate is valued above a certain amount it may become necessary to obtain a Grant of Probate.

At what age should I think about writing a Will?
The simple answer to this is as long as you are over 18 years old, you are never too young to consider writing a Will. I completely understand that it is not top of many ‘things-to-do lists’ and can be a little daunting to think about death. However, life can be unpredictable and fragile at times, and accidents can and do happen.

I haven’t got much in my estate so why do I need a Will?
When most people think of the purpose of a Will they immediately think about who is going to inherit their property or their money in the bank. However, your Will also allows you peace of mind that your funeral wishes will be carried out or your children will be placed with your chosen guardians for them or your share of the property is protected from future potential care cost fees of your surviving spouse.

Do I need a Solicitor to write a Will?
The simple answer is no. You do not need a Solicitor to write a Will and can write one yourself. Whilst these are legal, they can lead to future problems. For example, if the wording can be considered ambiguous it could be contested or if it is not signed correctly it will not be deemed valid. By using a Solicitor to write your Will such problems will be addressed and dealt with at the point of drafting the Will rather than when it’s too late to rectify.

How do I go about starting to write my Will?
If you now feel it is time to write your Will then contact any member of our experienced Wills and Probate team at Wilson Browne who will be more than happy to help.

Call us on 0800 088 6004 for advice and to start the process today. We can offer telephone calls, Zoom appointments or face to face meetings in any of our six offices. We look forward to meeting you and getting that box on your ‘things-to-do list’ ticked off.