04 December 2023

Everything you need to know about making a Will

Lucy Butterfint Partner & Head of Wills, Estates, Tax & Trusts
Man signing last Will and testament

Writing a Will is very important and is something that every single individual should do, even if you don’t consider yourself to have a lot of money or possessions.

There are many reasons why it’s essential to make a Will, such as:

  • Reducing stress for your next of kin

  • Making your funeral requests clear

  • Reducing the risk of arguments among family

  • Controlling your estate

  • Helping to reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax paid

  • Having the ability to donate to charitable organisations

  • Making arrangements for pets

  • Making provision for your children (if under 18)

  • Avoiding intestacy rules (set rules if there’s no Will)

If you die without making a Will, what you leave behind will be subject to intestacy laws. If there are no surviving relatives who can inherit under these rules, the estate will be passed to the Crown.

A significant disadvantage of this is that your estate may not be passed to the people that you want to benefit. For example, if you’re married, there is no guarantee that your children or grandchildren will receive anything at all. This is why it’s so important to clearly state your wishes, as early in your life as you can.

When is the best time to write a Will?

Ideally, it’s always best to write your Will at the earliest opportunity. Many people however tend to write theirs before a holiday, or when they reach key milestones - such as buying a house, getting married or having children. These are moments when you will start to accumulate an estate or have dependents, so it’s important to have a plan in place if anything should happen to you.

It can be tough to know when or even how to leave assets to someone in a Will, especially if you’re only at a young age, but it’s important to be proactive and prepared for all eventualities. Making a Will allows you to make the decisions, rather than risking someone else (or the law) making them on your behalf.

So, where do I start?

Making a Will is a process. To start with, you’ll need to get your estate valued - calculating your total number of assets, including property, cash, savings, and investments, plus any outstanding mortgages, loans and overdrafts.

Ultimately, the more detail that you include in your Will, the better as this will reduce the chances of any misunderstandings occurring. As a minimum, make sure that you cover:

  • Who the beneficiaries will be (and the proportions)

  • Who your chosen executor is (the person who will carry out your wishes)

  • Who will take care of any children under the age of 18

  • What to do if the beneficiaries die before you do

  • Any charitable donations you wish to make

If you can, try to define how all assets will be distributed - or else you’re at risk of anything not accounted for going to the state, rather than your loved ones.

The cost of your Will depends on the complexity of your affairs and the level of advice needed. We can provide fixed fees for Wills and will discuss the cost with you at your initial appointment or by phone following your enquiry.

Can I change my Will?

Yes, a Will can be amended at any time. We’d recommend taking a look at it at least every five years (or after a major life event takes place, such as marriage or having children).

You can either replace your existing Will with a new one, destroying all previous Wills to ensure that the correct one is used when you pass away, or you can make amendments to your current Will using a ‘codicil’.  This is used to make any minor changes required to a Will, without re-writing it all.

If you require any assistance or further information regarding making or amending a Will, please get in touch with our team today - we’re more than happy to help.

Need help?

Contact Lucy to discuss this further.

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