The simple definition of a Will is a legal document that sets out your wishes regarding the distribution of your money, possessions and property (known as your 'estate') after death. Having a Will in place gives you peace of mind and legal assurance that your wishes will be carried out once you are gone so that you know your family will be taken care of.
Although it is often difficult to think about the inevitable, having a Will in place is arguably one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family. Not only can a will legally protect your partner, children and assets, it can also spell out exactly how you would like things handled after you have passed on.
It is reported that 1 in 3 people in the UK die without having a written Will in place to protect their family and assets. If you die without a Will your estate will be distributed in accordance with the Intestacy Rules. These rules are old fashioned and can lead to disappointment and injustice.
Did you know?
- If you die without a Will your husband, wife or civil partner may not automatically inherit everything; they may have to share your estate with other relatives.
- If you are not married or in a civil partnership your partner is not automatically entitled to anything.
- If you separate from your spouse, they will stand to receive at least a proportion of your estate if you die before your divorce is fully finalised.
- Marriage or entering a civil partnership will revoke your Will.
Writing a Will does not need to be a lengthy process, after the first appointment, initial draft Wills are usually sent out within 10 working days. Once you are happy with the Will, a further appointment is made for the Will to be signed and witnessed. It is then usual for the legal provider to hold a copy of the Will until it is needed by the family.
Today, blended families are more common than ever, with a growing number of step-families and blended families who are raising children from their previous and present marriages. Consequently, it's important to regularly review your Will to ensure it's still fit for purpose and reflects your current personal circumstances.
We encourage our clients to review their Wills every three to five years, both to ensure that their wishes are up to date but also to consider changes in the law or tax system which may have a personal impact. By way of recent example, in April 2017 the government brought in a new Inheritance Tax (IHT) allowance. This allowance is essentially available on death to anyone leaving a residential property to their children, and is excellent news for many individuals and families who will see huge tax savings as a result. However, the legislation is complex and Wills made prior to 2017 are often drafted in such a way as to prohibit or limit access to this new allowance. A simple thing such as an age contingency on a gift to children or grandchildren, i.e. for my grandchildren at the age of 18, could mean the loss of this allowance.
We have further strengthened our Private Client team in North Norfolk with the appointment of Senior Solicitor and Wills & Trusts specialist Laura van Ree. As part of welcoming Laura to the firm we would like to offer you the opportunity for a free Will review, with appointments available at our North Walsham and Sheringham offices.
For more information on our Will services, please visit our dedicated 'Making a Will' webpage.
If you are considering making a Will or would like a member of our team to have a look at your current Will[s] and advise you about any changes you should consider making, please contact our Client Relations Team to book an appointment on 01603 693500 or email us using the 'Make an enquiry' form. Appointments available at our Norwich, North Walsham and Sheringham offices.
*This article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or other professional advice.