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Wills & Probate

The Importance of Writing a Will

By writing a Will, you are taking the first step to ensuring that your loved ones are looked after when you die. When making your Will it is important to ensure that all legal formalities are complied with and all eventualities are considered carefully.

If the legal requirements are not followed your Will may be completely invalid. Even if the Will is valid, there are legal rules with regard to who can witness your Will. If the wrong people witness your Will it may be invalid or you may find that certain gifts in the Will fail. Williamsons will take the stress out of what can seem like a daunting task by taking care of all of that for you.

By making your Will with Williamsons, you can be assured that your questions will be answered by an experienced Will writer. At Williamsons we have years’ of experience of writing Wills and administering estates. Therefore the advice given to our clients includes not only the legal issues surrounding the making of a Will, but we will also discuss the practical effect of your wishes with particular reference to how matters will actually be dealt with following your death.

Read our Frequently Asked Questions below and get in touch today to see how we can help.

Why is it important to make a Will?

There are many reasons why it is important to make a Will, both financial and practical. Some of the most common reasons for making a Will are:

  • You get to decide who will be responsible for administering your estate (i.e. you can appoint Executors in your Will)
  • If you do not make a Will the law will dictate who administers your estate and who receives all of your money, property and possessions. This may not be in accordance with your wishes – please see ‘Who will inherit my estate if I do not leave a Will?’ below for further information.
  • If you make financial provision for children in your Will (even if they are not your own children) you can stipulate who will be responsible for looking after the money for the children, until they reach a suitable age.
  • You can appoint a guardian in your Will to ensure that your children are cared for should you die while they are still too young to look after themselves.
  • If you are concerned about making provision for someone who is vulnerable, you can make provision for them in a way that provides them with protection.
  • You can decide who will look after your pets if you have any.
  • If you want to, you can include details of the type of funeral you would like. This can assist those arranging your funeral who may otherwise be unaware of your wishes.
  • If inheritance tax is a consideration, you may be able to minimise the amount of inheritance tax payable on your death through careful planning in your Will
  • Making a Will ensures that your wishes are clear and legally binding. This can help to minimise any disputes that may arise following your death.

Who will inherit my estate if I do not leave a Will?

If you do not leave a valid Will the law will dictate who administers your estate and who receives all of your money, property and possessions. Different laws apply in different countries. The information below applies in England and Wales only, it does not include Scotland or Northern Ireland.

The legal rules which dictate who inherits your estate are known as the Intestacy Rules (as you are said to die intestate if you do not leave a Will).

Many people assume that their surviving spouse or civil partner will automatically inherit the whole estate of their estate however this is not necessarily the case. Financial limits are placed on the amount that a surviving legal partner will inherit. If the financial limits are exceeded other family members may inherit a share of your estate and complicated rules regarding trusts will limit your surviving legal partner’s entitlement.

If you are not married or in a civil partnership but you are in a relationship, even living with someone, they will not automatically inherit anything from your estate under the Intestacy Rules.

If you do not have any immediate family for example a surviving legal partner and/or children/grandchildren, the Intestacy Rules stipulate that other members of your family will inherit (for example your parents, brother and sisters, nieces and nephews etc depending upon who survives you.) If you do not have any such relatives the Crown will take your estate.

It should be noted that the Intestacy Rules do not take into account the type of relationship you had with any particular relative during your lifetime. If you have a relative that you have not seen for many years lack of contact will not prevent them from inheriting under the Intestacy Rules.

In order to ensure that the Intestacy Rules do not apply to your estate it is essential to make a Will. Without making a Will you cannot control who inherits your estate.

Is it necessary to use a Solicitor?

A Will does not have to be prepared and witnessed by a Solicitor to be legally valid but there are strict legal requirements, which must be followed, for a Will to be legally binding. If the legal requirements are not followed your Will may be completely invalid. Even if the Will is valid, there are legal rules with regard to who can witness your Will. If the wrong people witness your Will it may be invalid or you may find that certain gifts in the Will fail.

In addition to ensuring that the formal requirements of executing a Will are followed, taking the advice of a Solicitor is also recommended to ensure that you have considered matters which are often overlooked by those making a Will without the advice of a Solicitor. In particular advice is often requested in respect of the following matters:

  • What happens if one of my named beneficiaries dies before me?
  • How do I make provision for someone who is vulnerable (for example a child or someone who is disabled)?
  • Can anyone make a claim against my estate?
  • Do I have to list all of my assets in my Will?
  • I share a home with someone but wish to make provision for someone else. How can I ensure that my partner is protected but my intended beneficiaries still receive their inheritance?
  • I have assets abroad. Will they be covered by a Will made in England and Wales?
  • What happens to my Will if I get married/enter a civil partnership. What happens if I get divorced/my civil partnership is dissolved?
  • Will my estate be subject to inheritance tax, and if so, can I take any action to minimise the amount that will have to be paid?

The above list is a brief summary of the type of questions we answer on a daily basis. By making a Will with Williamsons, you can be assured that your questions will be answered by an experienced Will writer. At Williamsons we have years’ of experience of writing Wills and administering estates. Therefore the advice given to our clients includes the legal issues surrounding the making of a will, but we can also discuss the practical effect of your wishes with particular reference to how matters will actually be dealt with following your death.

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I’ve rated my experience with Williamson’s solicitors as excellent.My case was handled by Mr. Gordon Sewell. Mr. Sewell was very quick to get to work on my case, as was necessary at the time. Everything he did for me was thorough and made sure I had every chance in my case. Everything Mr Sewell did for me turned out a success and I couldn’t have been happy with the way he dealt with myself, could communicated with myself and dealt with the case in its entirety.I wouldn’t hesitate to use Williamson’s solicitors again should I require it and would recommend their services to anyone. In fact, I already have since my experience!Thanks again Gordon.

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