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Making A Will

Making Your Will with Estate Planning Made Simple is a easy as 1 2 3

Step One

Tell us who you are and what you want to achieve.

We’ll give you free, honest and impartial advice based on your circumstances. We’ll make recommendations showing you the best way to structure your Will based on your wishes and give you a fixed price for the work agreed.  When you’ve confirmed that you want to go ahead, we’ll get to work drafting your Will, making sure that it includes everything you need.

Step Two

Check your draft Will and confirm that you're happy.

We’ll send your bespoke Will, professionally drafted to your exact requirements by one of our STEP Qualified Experts, to you within 48 hours. You can make any amendments if you’ve changed your mind and then confirm that you are happy with your draft. We’ll then send your final bound Will and free bonus documents to you by registered post for your signature.

Step Three

Sign your bound Will and return it to us for checking.

When you receive your bound Will, just follow the simple personalised signing instructions and then return it to us for checking. Our legal experts will make sure that it has been signed and witnessed correctly and confirm that it is legally valid so you can enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that there will be no problems when the time comes for it to be acted upon.

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A Will is a formal legal document that sets out your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets after your death.

 

In your Will you can appoint Executors - the people who are responsible for carrying out the instructions in your Will - and Guardians for your minor children if you have them.

 

You can record your funeral directions, for example, whether you prefer to be buried or cremated.

 

Most importantly, you can specify who gets a share of your estate. This could be a specific item such as a piece of jewellery, or a car; a specific sum of money to either an individual or a group of people, for example, one thousand pounds to each of your grandchildren; or, a percentage of your estate to a person, a group of people or a charity.

 

It is very important that the wording in your Will is clear and unambiguous and thousands of Wills fail because they have not been drafted or executed correctly.

 

There are strict formalities that must be followed in order for your Will to be valid. 

Single Wills

As the name implies, a Single Will is a Will made by one person and is normally made by someone who lives alone or is not in a relationship.

 

Whether you decide to make a basic Will or feel that the benefits of a comprehensive Will are a better choice, if you are single, widowed or divorced and do not need to take into consideration the needs and wishes of a spouse or partner then a Single Will is probably right for you.

 

If you are in a relationship and are living together, you should seriously consider making your Wills together as there can be real problems down the line if you make separate Wills without taking each others wishes into consideration.

 

We always recommend that a couple make their Wills together even if they have very different wishes.

 

If you are separated from someone you are married to then they still have rights over any jointly held assets and have the ability to make a claim against your estate. Some jointly held assets including your home may automatically pass to your estranged spouse even if you have made a Will that states otherwise unless you plan properly.

 

Although you would almost certainly not wish to make a Will together, you should ask for some specific advice from us to ensure that your assets are held correctly so that they pass under the terms of your Will and do not automatically pass to your estranged spouse on your death.

 

Mirror Wills

Mirror Wills are so called because they reflect similar wishes. Everyone must have their own Will, just as everyone has their own birth certifcate, driving license or passport.

 

Mirror Wills are normally made by married or co-habiting couples who want to provide for each other on first death and then leave their combined estate to similar beneficiaries on second death.

 

If you are in a relationship, and you both want to leave your assets to the same group of beneficiaries on second death then a pair of Mirror Wills may be a good idea.

 

You should take care however if you want to leave everything to each other on first death and then make provision for different beneficiaries on second death. This can often be a major problem if you have no children or have children from a previous relationship as there is a potential for one side of the family to be completely disinherited.

 

Whenever you are making Wills as a couple, you should always consider the benefits that comprehensive Wills can offer, as the added security they provide can make a significant difference to the level of protection that you can give to your beneficiaries.

A basic Will is suitable if your estate is small and your circumstances are very straightforward. If your estate mainly consists of your home contents and the balance of your bank current account, then a basic Will may be right for you.

 

In a basic Will you can name your executors, appoint guardians for minor children, specify your funeral wishes and leave your estate to the beneficiaries of your choice.

 

If you own a property, are married or co-habiting, have children, own a business, or simply want to protect your beneficiaries from the problems caused by ill health, divorce and remarriage, or just want some flexibility to allow for future changes, you should consider a comprehensive Will as this provides added protection. 

 

We will discuss both options with you and you can decide which is right for you.

Unless your situation is very straightforward you should consider making a comprehensive Will that protects your beneficiaries from many of the problems that life can throw at them.

 

If you are worried about what might happen if you die and your spouse remarries; or if you leave things to your children and they get divorced; or if you die and your spouse goes into care, then you should seriously consider making a  comprehensive Will.

 

A basic Will can do nothing to protect your beneficiaries from the things that may go wrong in their lives, and when they have received their inheritance from you it does nothing to prevent it being taken away from them by others.

 

A comprehensive Will allows you to put a legal wrapper around your assets after your death so that only the beneficiaries that you have named can benefit from your estate.

 

For example, you may wish to ensure that your estate is held for the benefit your spouse on your death but stipulate that on their death it passes to your children. By doing that, you override the law that states that if they remarry, their new spouse has first claim on your estate! 

 

Or you may want to leave everything to your children but are worried that if they died or got divorced a share of their inheritance would end up in the hands of your son- or daughter-in-law rather than pass to your grandchildren. By making a comprehensive Will you can stipulate that your estate is to be held for your bloodline and limit those who can have access to it.

 

A comprehensive Will gives you a great deal of flexibility as you do not have to guess what the situation might be on the date of your death. You can create a set of principles that your Executors can follow to ensure that your estate remains safe for your beneficiaries.

 

For example, you may want to make provision for you spouse if you pass away before them, but what if they are in poor health and have already gone into care when you pass away. In that situation anything left to them is a gift to the care home or the government and your children could end up with nothing.

 

By leaving your assets in a protected environment your Executors can excercise their discretion to hold the estate for your children rather than see it all taken in care fees.

 

Comprehensive Wills are individually designed to protect your family in line with your precise requirements.

 

Although there are significant benefits for everyone other than those with the smallest estates, they are especially important for co-habiting couples, and blended families and anyone who wants to ensure that their assets stay with the people that they care about.

 

You simply need to tell us what's important to you and we will draft your comprehensive Will accordingly. 

If you die without a legally valid Will you are said to have died 'intestate' and the State will write one for you.

 

That means you have no say in who gets a share of your estate or who sorts out your affairs or goes through all your most personal and intimate possessions.

 

Without a properly drafted and legally valid Will in place your estate could end up in the hands of the last people you would want to receive a share.

 

The rules on who receives a share of your estate are very strict and it's not safe to assume that your spouse will automatically receive everything.

 

If you're co-habiting your partner is not entitled to anything even if you've been together for decades. There is no such thing as a 'common law husband or wife' in the intestacy rules.  

 

If you're single and have no children, your entire estate could pass back up to your parents in equal shares, even if you've never met your father or had no contact with him for most of your life.

 

If you're separated from your spouse but not divorced, they are still legally entitled to the first claim on your estate under the intestacy rules, and they could then pass your assets on to their new partner rather than your children.

 

There are so many things that can go wrong if you die without a Will, and the mess you leave behind for others to clear up can take years and cost thousands of pounds.

 

Show your loved ones that you care by just taking a few minutes to talk things through with us, make your Will and protect those who are most important to you.

Who you decide to appoint to act as your Executors will depend very much on your personal circumstances.

 

Most people who are married or co-habiting will want to appoint their spouse or partner as one of their Executors although there is no rule to say that you must.

 

It's very common for people who are making Mirror Wills to appoint each other and their adult children, if they have them, to act. 

 

If you're single and have adult children then they might be the natural choice. But if you don't have children or they are still under 18 you may want to appoint other relatives or close friends to act for you.

 

You could also appoint professional Executors if you wish but be careful to make sure you know exactly what they will charge as professional fees can often run into thousands or tens of thousands of pounds.

 

Although you only need to name one Executor, it is best to name at least two. We recommend that you appoint a minimum of two (in addition to each other if you are making Mirror Wills) and a maximum of four. Too few Executors and you run the risk of them predeceasing you, too many and you run the risk of having 'too many cooks'.

 

Your Executors must be at least 18 to act for you and must be mentally capable of carrying out their duties, so underage children can't act until they reach the age of 18 and appointing people that are in very advanced years may not be such a good idea either as they may predecease you or be physically or mentally unable to carry out their duties.  

 

We'll be pleased to help you make the right choice of who to appoint as your Executors when we talk together.

If you have children under the age of 18 it's important that you appoint Testamentary Guardians that can look after them if you are no longer around. 

 

This can be one of the hardest and most emotive areas to tackle when you are making your Will. Who would you want to look after your children if you are no longer able to?

 

For some people the immediate choice is their own parents, for others it's a sibling or a close friend. If you also have adult children, as well as those that are under 18, then they may be a good choice. Obviously that depends on their age, maturity and circumstances.

 

Whoever you decide to appoint will normally need access to funds from your estate to help with the cost of raising your children until at least the age of 18 and maybe beyond that if they go on to university or some other form of further education.

 

It's also important to bear in mind that although your parents may be able to care for your children now, and many would naturally want to do so, they may not be so capable of looking after them in 10 years time.

 

So think ahead. If you decide that your parents are the best first choice to act as Guardians, you may also want to appoint substitute Guardians who can step into their shoes if they are no longer able to act at the time.

 

It's also important to think about practical matters such as where the children will live. Will they go and live with their  Guardians? Is there enough room for them in the Guardians' house? Or would it be better for their Guardians to move into your house? Will they need to move schools? Or relocate to a completely different area or another part of the country?

 

Depending on their age at the time you pass away, it may be difficult for them to adjust to losing you and all of their network of friends at the same time. Of course losing parents is not easy at any age but for a young person to lose their parent(s) and all of their friends may make things even harder for them.

 

The other thing that needs to be carefully considered is the financial provision that you make for their upbringing. Do you have adequate assets to cover the cost of raising them and still leave them a nest egg to go on to further education or use as a deposit on a house for example? Do you have sufficient life cover to meet their immediate needs after your death or to generate sufficient income to maintain them until they are old enough to stand on their  own feet? 

 

It's also important to consider whether they should maintain contact with both sides of the family and if so how they will do so? If you appoint Guardians from one side of the family, how will they keep their relationships with the other side? Their other Grandparents, their Aunts and Uncles, their Cousins? Will they spend school holidays with other relatives? When, and how often?

 

In addition to the formal appointment of Guardians in your Will, it is a good idea to set out your detailed wishes in a Statement of Wishes that can sit alongside your Will and act as Guidance to your Guardians. We can help you with this when we draft your Will and everyone who makes a Will with us that requires the appointment of Guardians receives a 'Statement of Wishes to the Guardians of My Minor Children' template as standard.

 

You should also carefully consider the interaction between your Guardians and your Executors. Will you appoint the same people to act in both capacities? If not, do they know each other? Do they get along? There is little point in setting out detailed guidance for your Guardians explaining how you want your children to be raised if they do not receive the financial support needed to make that possible from the people holding the purse strings.

 

Do you want your Executors to make regular monthly payments to your Guardians? How much financial support will they need?

 

We can discuss all of these questions with you, as necessary, when we help you to design your Will. 

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