An essential guide to writing your Will and seeking a solicitor’s help
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Almost two-thirds of people living in the UK don’t have a Will, according to a survey by Macmillan Cancer Support, and so may not be able to provide for their families in the way they want.
We chat to Simon Cook, partner at Willans LLP Solicitors in Cheltenham, to understand why, and what you can do to protect your family and get your affairs in order.
Q: Why are there so many people in the UK without a Will?
A: I think largely it’s because people don’t understand the implications of not having a Will and how it can affect your estate and family. People also delay writing one because they assume it's something they’ll get to, eventually.
Q: Why is it important to write a Will?
A: It’s necessary because we never know what’s around the corner and a Will offers clarity in knowing what will happen to your assets if anything happens to you.
- A Will ensures your money and assets are inherited by the people you want, in the manner you want.
- You can set up gifts and legacies to provide for future generations.
- You can assign a trustee to oversee financial matters for beneficiaries unable to handle money due to vulnerability, age or disability.
In contrast, without a Will the law dictates how your estate will be divided, meaning stepfamily members, unmarried partners and friends may not receive anything.
You can also use your Will to appoint an executor of the estate, to ensure the matter is handled fairly by someone you trust. This helps to avoid placing this administrative burden on your spouse or children who may not have ever dealt with financial affairs before.
Ultimately, creating a Will provides peace of mind and eases your family’s stress, by helping you to put plans in place to ensure they will be taken care of.
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Q: Should I seek the help of a solicitor to help me write my Will?
A: Absolutely. A solicitor can help you explore and understand all of your options, discuss the best way to provide for your loved ones and make the process quick and simple.
Much of the Will-writing market is unregulated, and with the addition of DIY online Will-writing kits, it’s easy to make mistakes, but hard and expensive to find the advice you need if something goes wrong.
I lead the Wills, Trusts and Probate team at Willans LLP Solicitors. Our experienced team can help you with planning for the future, no matter what stage you are at in life. We provide trustworthy, bespoke advice to make sure your money, property, possessions and investments go to the people you care most about after you die.
I have close to 30 years' experience in helping people with their estate planning and am recommended for my expertise in the region by national legal guides. I am a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, an international professional body for advisers who specialise in inheritance and succession planning, and am also a dementia friend.
Q: What things will I need to consider when writing my Will?
A: There are quite a number of things to think about when drafting a Will, the most obvious being who you want to benefit from your estate. In addition, if you own a second property or any foreign assets, like a holiday home abroad, or have agricultural or business interests, then you should seek professional legal advice on how to manage this. Our experts can advise you on the laws you’ll need to be aware of and provide the relevant guidance.
Planning for inheritance tax is also a consideration. By making sure you have a tax-efficient Will and suggesting what steps you can take now to reduce your inheritance tax liability, we can help maximise the amount your beneficiaries will inherit. Whilst lawyers cannot give financial advice, we can help you understand ways to secure inheritance tax relief and protect your estate against care home fees. We also have excellent relationships with trusted accountants and financial advisers who can add value to your estate planning.
As you can see, Will-writing can be a very involved process for an individual, which is why it’s best to seek help from a solicitor to ensure all your bases are covered.
Q: If I already have a Will, should I still seek advice from a solicitor?
A: Possibly. We recommend you review your Will every three to five years to ensure it accurately reflects your current situation. Of course, if your wishes change or if you’ve recently married, had children or are getting a divorce, then you may need to amend your Will.
Q: How can I find the right solicitor to help me make my Will?
A: You can contact us to find out more. We’ll put you in touch with the solicitor that best suits your needs. In your first meeting, we’ll get to know more about you, your estate, family and aims. Keeping your best interests at heart, we can then advise your next steps and outline costs so you can make an informed decision about what’s right for you.
Willans’ Wills, Trusts and Probate lawyers are very easy to talk to and give legal support and advice in a kind, honest and clear way. They advise people on any size of estate, from complex cross-border ones to small estates with no inheritance tax requirements. The legal team is ranked on merit by Chambers and The Legal 500.
Visit willans.co.uk to book an appointment.
Call Simon on 01242 542911 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.