Will Services

A look in to what a will is, how wills work, and why you should have one. 

 When a person passes, there are many difficult decisions to be made with regards to that person's estate. These decisions are often made more difficult as a result of grief. Having a will in place allows for a smoother process. 

Person signing last will and testament with a black pen

Wills are written to make sure the right assets get to the right people, at the right time.

Frequently Asked Questions About Wills

How wills work

 

Wills work by taking in to account all that a person owns inclusive of finances, insurance, pensions, savings, personal belongings (this could include jewellery or antiques), property, furniture, and motor vehicles. Debts are also included in the valuation. This is known as a person's 'estate'. The estate is valued, and in the event of death, is divided as specified to the parties that they have chosen. This could be to family, friends, or even to charity in some instances.

 

Several things must be in place for a will to be valid. You can learn more about these by getting in touch with us. 

 

How wills are executed

Wills are executed by whoever is in possessions of the will. This is usually the executor of the will, but it could also be a beneficiary of the will. 

 

The order in which a will is executed is generally as follows;

 

  • After death, the most recent copy of the will is tracked down

  • The executor of the will, will need to gather all assets. This includes money, insurance, property, possessions, etc. This also includes debts. 

  • An application for probate. Probate forms need to be signed and a swear on oath is required. Once settled, the document goes to whomever the individual has assets with. Those organisations will unfreeze accounts so funds and assets can be accessed. 

  • Inheritance tax is paid. The amount of inheritance tax varies on the estate

  • Outstanding debts are settled. This could include bills, mortgages or other loans the individual had. 

  • The final step is to distribute what is left of the estate to the parties named in the will as per the deceased's wishes. 

What should be included in a will? 

 

When having a will written, it’s important to consider some information before you begin the process. This can make it easier, and means you are prepared. 

 

  • A record of all of your assets, finances (this includes savings and pensions) and insurance and any debts you have

  • An idea of who you like to leave things to

  • An idea of who you would like to be your executor

 

Why wills are important

 

Having a will in place before your death is important, no matter if you don’t consider yourself to have much in terms of possessions or money. If you die without a will, the money or possessions could be allocated in a way that you wish them to be distributed, and this is because when you don’t have a will, there are rules in place that dictate how your estate is allocated.

 

Keeping your will up-to-date is also important. If your circumstances change (For example, if you have separated from a partner who was in your will, or if you marry or enter a civil partnership) that you change the content of your will to reflect your wishes in the event of your death. 

Over half of the UK population either do not have a Will, or it has not been reviewed for many years.

A will ensures your wishes are granted upon your death.

Over half of the UK population either do not have a Will, or it has not been reviewed for many years.

Can wills be contested?

 

Wills can be contested, and an individual may want to challenge a will because;

 

  • They do not believe the will is valid (and is therefore not legal)

  • They do not believe they have been provided for adequately in the will

It is dependent on the grounds on which it is being contested, as to who can contest the will. For example, if it is believed that the will is not legally valid, then anybody can contest a will. However, if the will is contested for any other reason, it can only be contested by specific individuals, dependent on the grounds for the contest. 

 

The time limit for challenging a will is 6 months from the grant of probate. 

 

Wills vs trusts

 

A trust is a legal arrangement, whereby you appoint a trustee (or several - Trustees) who are responsible for the management and holding of your assets. Unlike a will that comes into effect upon your death, trust means your assets are transferred while you are still alive, and the trust continues to hold everything after you pass. While you don't own the assets any longer (The trust does) you still have access to them. Deciding between a will and a trust can is based entirely on the circumstances of the individual. To discuss options, as well as pros and cons to both, please don't hesitate to get in touch. 

Can wills be changed?

 

Circumstances change, and this can often impact your will. If any change in circumstance affects your will, it should be updated immediately to ensure there are no complications upon death. You cannot amend a will after it has been signed and witnessed. 

A will can be updated by; 

  • Creating an entirely new will

  • Making a codicil to the existing will (A supplementary document)

For more information on changing your will, get in touch and we'd be happy to assist.

“But in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes”

Benjamin Franklin 13/11/1789