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Hello, my name is Abigail Bird and I am the Head of the Legacy Team at Laurus London Solicitors. Within the Legacy department, we focus primarily on Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Trust structures and the administration of Estates.

There are many benefits to having your Will prepared but it is sometimes difficult to emphasise the importance so instead of bullet pointing the benefits, I have collated some of the questions I have received from my clients which I hope will be a useful and interesting read for you!


 

Can I get a DIY Will Pack from from the high street?

Yes. You can purchase a DIY Will Pack with a template and guidelines as to how to complete it.

Is this sensible?

In the same way as someone can pick their own investment portfolio, this may be fine in some circumstances where they are happy not to take advice and content to take the risk themselves.

DIY wills are often found to be defective or invalid which can give rise to family disputes and can cost estates very large sums of money. Also, let’s not forget that a Will is a great Inheritance Tax (“IHT”) planning tool, so it’s worth taking professional advice to get it right.

Perhaps more importantly the fact that people are doing it themselves means they often fail to ask themselves many of the important ‘what if’ questions, such as who you may want to look after your minor (under 18) children if you passed away.

Also without a test for capacity, a DIY will is far more likely to be contested.

For a relatively small fixed fee, a solicitor can give tailored advice and ensure that the document is correctly executed.

Is it just as important for married people to have a Will as it is for non-married people?

Yes, in most cases. Under the Intestacy Rules, the surviving spouse does not necessarily inherit the whole Estate. Part may go to the children or grandchildren in trust. It is advisable to set out what you want to happen to your estate rather than simply assume that it will go to your spouse.

Tax planning forms an important part of the Will. For example, there may be business assets which satisfy the criteria for Business Property Relief and have the potential to be 100% IHT exempt. It may therefore not always be sensible to leave those assets to a surviving spouse who is already an IHT exempt beneficiary. It may be more advantageous to pass them to non-exempt beneficiaries, such as children, and benefit from the IHT exemption.

Furthermore, without a Will you can’t stipulate who you would like to appoint as a Guardian or Trustee to your young children. If you do not have a Will in place, your children may temporarily be placed in care until the appropriate person can be located and appointed to look after them.

There’s also no opportunity to give directions to your Executor, Guardians, or Trustees as to your children’s upbringings, or who you might like to inherit certain personal items, or for your business interests, as you would in a Letter of Wishes.

What if I don’t have any assets of real value to leave?

A Will does not just cover distribution of assets, it also deals with guardianship, funeral preferences, items of sentimental value, pets, and specifically excluding people.

One of the greatest benefits that a Will can bring is peace of mind for families, knowing that they are aware of your wishes at a stressful time.

Can you give me an example of a case when things have gone wrong because a person didn’t have a well-written will?

A gentleman left a handwritten Will which included a legacy to “my grandchildren” However, he failed to include the wording “to my grandchildren as shall be living at my death.” The omission of these 7 words meant the number of grandchildren could not be quantified and before the estate could be fully distributed, they had to wait until all of his children were past child-bearing age!!

What about common law spouses? How long does it take for this to apply?

Cohabiting couples have no automatic rights under the Intestacy Rules.

The only way to ensure your common law spouse is provided for is to have a Will prepared.

Where a common law spouse dies without a valid Will, the only option is to apply to the Court for financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

In those circumstances it’s necessary to prove to the Court that they had been living in the same household, as husband and wife, for a period of two years ending immediately before death OR that they were wholly or partly financially maintained by the partner immediately before death.

This process can be costly, takes a great deal of time, very stressful and as a result, often puts pressure on family ties.

If I am having a Will prepared, where do I start?

The first step is to ask yourself 5 important questions

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Once you have considered those, it’s time to contact a solicitor.

I conduct telephone appointments and do home and office visits throughout the week. During the appointment I will run through the key points, answer any questions, and complete the details so that by the end of that appointment I can prepare a working draft to review ahead of finalising for signature.

The initial meeting normally takes up to 1 hour, and the Will should be ready for signature within 5 to 10 working days of the appointment.

This might sound odd but clients of mine have often commented at how good it makes them feel to have completed their Will, and we try to make it as simple and enjoyable as possible.

If you would like to discuss Wills in further detail, and benefit from an initial free consultation, then please do get in touch with me on the details below.

TEL: 020 3146 6300
DDI: 020 3146 6312
MOB: 07860 907 232

LAURUSLONDON
5 St John’s Lane London EC1M 4BH

DX 138793 Clerkenwell

www.lauruslaw.co.uk

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