What is a Will?
A Will (or a Will and Last Testament) is a legal document which confirms your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and affairs. They also state who should take care of any minor children – known as ‘Guardians’. Should you die without a Will, (a term known as Intestate) those wishes may not be followed. When a person dies without leaving a Will, their estate must be shared out according to certain rules known as ‘the rules of intestacy’.
Making a Will – what to consider?
By making a Will you can:-
- Appoint people (called Executors) to carry out the terms of your Will.
- Appoint Guardians you trust to look after your children.
- Leave gifts of specific items or fixed sums of money
- Name the people or charities you want to benefit from your estate.
- Include Trusts to help protect your assets for your children.
If any of the above applies to you – Don’t leave it to chance.
Create a Will today.
Even if you have a Will it is crucial to review it at regular intervals; certainly every five years, and sooner if there have been a major life-changing events such as divorce, remarriage or the death of a partner, then your Will should be reviewed.
When it comes to dealing with your estate you have three options:-
1. Make no Will and leave it to chance
Clearly, this is the worst scenario. If you die without having made a Will, you will be intestate, and your estate will be administered according to the rules of intestacy. This means your assets may be inherited and directed by laws imposed by the government. This means if you do not have any close family, your estate could be inherited by someone you never intended or indeed never wanted to receive your estate. To avoid this possibility, it is therefore essential to make a Will setting out exactly who should benefit from your estate on your death.
Should you die without a Will, it can also make the Probate process more complex. More information on Intestacy.
2. Make your own Will and hope that it is adequate
Whilst this is clearly a better option than not making a Will, it can still have downsides. If the homemade Will fails to take into account the legal formalities and is not drafted correctly or executed properly or does not address recent changes in the law, it may result in an outcome similar to not making a Will (as mentioned above). The fact is there are many considerations and possible pitfalls when drafting a Will, tax implications being only one of them, which may not be readily apparent.
Please read this article by the Guardian Newspaper:
3. Have a Professionally drafted Will
There are several organisations you can approach to make your Will. You need to ensure that whoever you instruct has the necessary expertise in all aspects of Will drafting and that they are qualified to advise you on the various elements of estate planning and adhere to a professional code of conduct.
At Cohen Knights LLP, our team of professionals are qualified to provide the advice you need. As STEP members we will act in accordance with the STEP code of Professional Conduct and abide by the STEP code for Will Preparation in England & Wales. This is a set of ethical principles that operate for the benefit of clients and demonstrate openly the commitment of STEP members to transparency and client service. See a copy of the code.
For initial advice and guidance about making a Will, call our advisors in Norfolk and Suffolk on 0333 1300 509 or contact us online and we will help you.