Will Writing

Writing a Will is about choice. We all have a Will, but we either choose what happens by writing our own will or the Law decides for us, this is known as ‘intestacy’.

What is a Will?

A Will is a legal document that ensures you have a say in who gets what after you die. This includes ensuring that certain people will benefit from an inheritance, while others do not. A Will can establish:

  • Who’ll manage your affairs after you die (known as executors)?
  • Who will look after your children (known as guardians)?
  • Who will inherit your money/possessions?
  • Your funeral wishes
  • Financial Planning

What happens if I don’t write a Will?

Failure to make a Will detailing your wishes causes added stress for those left behind.

Your family may suffer financial hardship due to delays in accessing your estate and a court claim may need to be made against other beneficiaries including your children.

Without writing a Will the law assumes you wanted your estate distributed according to the tight and restrictive rules of the law of intestacy which means:

  • Your spouse may not automatically inherit everything you own. Your children may be entitled to inherit part of your estate and, if you have no children, other relatives could have a claim
  • Your partner (if not married) will receive nothing. It will go directly to your children and if no children, then to your parents and down the family line
  • If there is a dispute regarding who will look after your children the courts may decide who to appoint as guardians. This might not be who you would choose
  • Any money your children inherit will go to them to spend as they wish when they turn 18 years old
  • There is no opportunity for efficient planning (financial and non-financial) which could result in those left behind paying too much tax or losing their benefits

Should I take professional advice when making a Will?

You can do it yourself but a Will is a legal document. What you think is logical and clear may not be interpreted that way in Law. Take advice, especially as you can’t always know exactly what you don’t know.

If you died tomorrow, who would sort out your affairs, look after your children and where would your money go?

A Will helps those you’ve left behind with knowing how to carry out your wishes

Who should I consult for advice?

Always use somebody who is a member of STEP (Society of Trust and Estate and Practitioners). You’ll know if someone is a member because they will have ‘TEP’ after their name. STEP members are the most qualified in this field of work.

How often should I review my Will?

It is advisable to review your Will every 3-5 years to check it is still relevant for your circumstances. Having an out of date Will can often be as problematic as having no Will.

We’re recently married, do we need to change our Wills?

Yes, getting married invalidates any previous Wills. Unless your current Will states ‘in contemplation of marriage’ you will need to make a new one.

Can the Will also deal with my foreign holiday home?

For immovable assets, e.g. real estate, it is advisable to get a separate Will in the country of origin. However, it is important for this to be done in conjunction with your UK Will so as not to invalidate either of them.

Can I make changes to my Will once it is signed?

Changes to your Will can be made at anytime while you have the mental capacity to do so. Changes can be made using amendments (called a Codicil) or by simply issuing an updated Will reflecting the changes.

IMPORTANT

Will writing is not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

How can Plato help?

We have excellent partnerships with two of the country’s leading law firms and will writing firms. Each can help with Will Writing, Probate Services and Lasting Power of Attorney. We will put you in touch with them for an initial no obligation chat about your individual needs.

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