- What is a Will?
- What if I don't make a Will?
- How do I make a Will?
- What does a Will cost?
- Can I make my own Will?
- Do I have to use a Solicitor?
- What happens if my circumstances change?
What is a Will?
A Will is a document which allows you to decide how your money and property will be distributed after your death and who should deal with the administration of your estate.
To be valid, it must be signed by you and witnessed by two people. The witnesses must see you sign the Will and then sign it themselves.
What if I don't make a Will?
If you die without a valid Will the law will determine how your money and property is distributed. This will depend on many factors such as whether or not you are married or have children, and the value of your estate, but the result might not be what you want or expect. For example:
- If you are married with children your spouse may have to share the estate with your children.
- If you die while your children are young they will inherit your estate on reaching 18.
- If you are not married your partner will not be entitled to anything.
- If you have lost touch with your closest relatives they will have to be found before the estate can be administered.
- If you have no close relatives your estate will go to the Crown.
How do I make a Will?
The best place to start is here at Taylor & Emmet LLP. In our Wills and Probate department we deal with all aspects of Wills, estate planning and administration, including tax advice and trusts. Some of our solicitors are also members of STEP; the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, which is the leading worldwide professional body in this field.
The process is usually quite straightforward and should only take a couple of weeks to complete. At an initial meeting with one of our specialists we will ask what you want to happen on your death and give advice on the best way to achieve what you want.
Before the meeting it's a good idea to think about what you want included in your will. You should consider:
- How much money and what property and possessions you have
- Who you want to benefit from your Will
- Who should look after any children under 18 years of age
- Who is going to sort out your estate and carry out your wishes after your death - that is your executor.
After that meeting we will prepare a draft of the Will and send it to you for approval. You can then come back to us with any queries or changes to be made to the draft Will and we will then prepare the final Will for signature. It is essential that the correct procedure is followed when signing the Will, so we recommend that you come back to us for another meeting to sign it but if that is difficult to arrange we can send it to you with instructions to follow.
We will then store the Will for you and provide you with photocopies to keep at home. This is to ensure that the Will is kept safe and is not accidentally lost or damaged. We do not charge for this service.
What does a Will cost?
Our fees start from £150 plus VAT, but the cost does vary depending on the type of Will you need. For most Wills we charge a fixed fee and can tell you what the fee will be when you arrange the initial meeting. If not, we will conduct that meeting on a no obligation basis and give you a quote at the end of the meeting, so you can decide whether or not to go ahead.
Can I make my own Will?
Yes you can, but home-made Wills invariably cause problems because of ambiguous wording or matters which are overlooked. The cost of resolving such problems will almost always be much higher than the cost of having the Will prepared professionally
Do I have to use a Solicitor?
No. There are other organisations that provide Will writing services, but here are just some of the many reasons to have your Will drawn up by a solicitor who specialises in this area of the law rather than a Will writing company or a bank:
- Will writers often have no legal training, whereas solicitors have had years of legal training
- Will writers are unregulated whereas solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Society. Any problems with your Will are only likely to come to light after your death, by which time the Will writing company may well have disappeared
- Because we deal with the administration of estates as well as Will writing we have direct experience of how Wills can affect the family and friends of the deceased and can offer practical advice as well as technical expertise.
- If you make your Will through your bank, they will insist that you appoint them as your executors. They can then re-coup the cost of making your Will when they administer your estate. We leave the choice of executors entirely up to you. We are happy to act as your executors if you wish, but it is your Will, your money, your family …. so you should decide who to appoint.
What happens if my circumstances change?
You can change your Will as often as you like. A small change might be made by a Codicil to the Will, which must be signed and witnessed in the same way, but in this day of document management systems it is often simpler and clearer to make a new Will.
Here are some important points to remember:
- You don't have to change your Will just because you move house or because someone named in your Will changes their name or address.
- If you marry your Will is automatically cancelled unless it was made “in expectation” of the marriage.
- If you divorce your Will then takes effect as if your former husband or wife had died before you.