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Writing a Will

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It is a common misconception that anyone can write a Will as a Will is just a document saying who you want to inherit your property. However, writing a Will can be complicated. Will lawyers say that it is far more expensive to try and sort out an estate where a Will hasn’t been written properly than it is to pay a specialist Will solicitor to write a Will or change an existing Will for you. In this blog we look at the perils and pitfalls of Will writing.

London and online Will solicitors

For information and advice on writing a Will or making changes to your existing Will call the specialist Will solicitors at OTS family solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form. Appointments are available through video conferencing, skype or by telephone.

Why write a Will?

There are many reasons why you may feel driven to write a Will. For example, you may be worried about your health or think that is sensible to write a Will before you take a long trip overseas. Will solicitors say that there are many other scenarios that should result in your writing a Will but at its most simplest you should write a Will so that your money or estate goes to your loved ones or to a preferred nominated charity rather than pass under intestacy rules.

What are intestacy rules?

In England if someone dies without leaving a valid Will then a Will solicitor refers to them as having ‘’died intestate’’. The deceased’s money and property passes under intestacy rules. This means that if you are in a long term relationship with a partner but you aren’t married or in a civil relationship your estate passes to your nearest blood relative under intestacy rules, namely:

  • Your children or
  • Your grandchildren or
  • Your parents or
  • Your siblings or
  • Your grandparents or
  • Your aunts and uncles.

If you don’t have any living relatives and you die intestate your estate goes to the Crown.

If you die intestate but you have a partner then your partner could potentially bring a claim against your estate as your dependant. These proceedings can be tricky and expensive to resolve so you should:

  • Write a Will if you want your unmarried partner to receive all your estate or a share of it
  • Write a Will if you don’t want your unmarried partner to get all or a share of your estate as the creation of a Will makes it harder for a person to make a dependency claim and seek money from your estate.

How to write a Will

The easiest way to write a Will or to change your Will is to speak to a specialist Will lawyer who can draw up a professional Will for you. The Will solicitor will ask you a series of questions about your personal and financial circumstances. The questions are designed to ensure that:

  • Your loved ones are protected. For example, if you have young children you may want to appoint testamentary guardians in your Will to help protect your children as there are special considerations when writing Wills to protect children
  • The Will is appropriate for your financial circumstances. For example, if you are a company shareholder or partner in a family business then you may need key man insurance in addition to your Will
  • The Will is inheritance tax efficient as if your estate is of a size where inheritance tax is likely to be payable there are steps that can be taken, through inheritance tax planning, to reduce the inheritance tax burden on your loved ones
  • If your family circumstances are complicated, for example, you are separated from a spouse or you have estranged children, your Will can be written in a way that minimises the risk of a claim being made against your estate.
  • When to write a Will

When Will solicitors are asked the question ‘’when should I write a Will?’’ the answer is that it always important to have a Will and that you should not leave or put off writing a Will. The reality is that many people only think about writing a Will when they experience a significant life event such as:

Will lawyers say that whilst all of the above events are important triggers to write a Will there are many other life events that mean you should write a Will, such as:

  • Forming a relationship with your unmarried partner
  • Starting a new business venture
  • Ownership of a buy to let property portfolio
  • Having step-children or step-grandchildren
  • Ending a relationship with a former partner
  • Moving to live in the UK.

Will solicitors understand that people don’t want to think about their mortality or to dwell on the thought of their death but getting a Will professionally drawn up doesn’t have to be a morbid affair as it involves taking legal advice in much the same way as if you were buying a house or business or taking family law advice.

When to change your Will

Life doesn’t stand still so many people find that over the course of their life they need to write more than one Will. A good Will solicitor will do their best to ensure that your Will lasts as long as possible. For example, if you are the proud parent of your first child, your Will lawyer will suggest that your Will says that your estate is left to your ‘’children’’ as that means if you go onto have more children you don’t have to change your Will. Likewise, it is best practice for a Will solicitor to put in provisions in your Will for what should happen to your estate in case your chosen beneficiary passes away before you do so. There are however some life circumstances that can only be catered for by the writing of a new Will such as a new relationship, your marriage or remarriage, your separation or divorce or other important life events.

If you are in any doubt about whether your Will remains fit for purpose it is best to check with a Will solicitor who will happily tell you whether any changes need to be made or whether your existing Will remains appropriate for your personal and financial circumstances.

How to contact OTS family solicitors

To speak to Jayana Rathod  a Will solicitor at London based OTS family solicitors about writing a Will , changing your existing Will, estate and inheritance tax planning, contesting a Will or making an Inheritance Act claim call 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form. Appointments are available through video conferencing, Skype or by telephone appointment.

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