Making a Will

Why make a Will?

You need a Will if you wish to control the destiny of the property you leave behind when you die. If you leave no Will, and so die intestate, the Government has a set of rules which inflexibly apply.

Your choice is likely to be the better choice so that you can look after those who helped you, and make the winding up of your estate as easy as possible.

If you have children, own property, or run a business you really must have a Will.

FAQs

DO I NEED A WILL?

Yes. We would always recommend that everybody has a properly drafted Will. Many people believe they are either too young to write a Will or that it is too expensive or they do not have enough money or property to make writing a Will worthwhile.

Dying without a Will can make what is already a difficult time a lot harder for your family. By writing a Will, you leave your loved ones clear instructions on your wishes. Wills can also be used for tax planning and to protect your assets for future generations and from being used to pay nursing home fees.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T HAVE A WILL?

Anyone dying without having made a valid Will is deemed to have died “intestate” which will then require that their estate is dealt with according to the rules of intestacy which determine who will inherit your estate and this would not necessarily be the people you would choose. This can potentially give rise to many problems for those who survive you.

CAN I WRITE MY OWN WILL?

There are many DIY kits available. However, a poorly drafted or incorrectly witnessed Will could cause more problems than it solves – very often solicitors make more money sorting out poorly drafted Wills than they do from drafting them in the first place. DIY Wills should be approached with caution – paying a solicitor may seem like a waste of money, but what price can you put on peace of mind and avoiding potential disputes?

I AM SINGLE – DO I NEED A WILL?

It is very important to have a Will if you are single because without one, your assets and possessions will be distributed in line with what the rules of intestacy say which determine who will inherit your estate and this would not necessarily be the people you would have chosen to inherit.

For example, when one of two brothers died suddenly, his whole estate automatically went to their father, who had left them 40 years earlier and had not been in contact since. His brother, who he was close to, got nothing.

I AM MARRIED – MY SPOUSE WILL GET EVERYTHING?

Not necessarily. From 1 October 2014 new intestacy laws came into force, changing what happens to your estate if you die without leaving a Will (‘intestate’).

Under the new rules, if you die intestate, and with children, your spouse is entitled to your personal effects, the first £250,000 of your other assets and half of what is left.

Your children are entitled to the other half. If your children wanted their share immediately, and your spouse did not have the cash available they could, potentially, be forced to sell the house and other assets.

I’VE LIVED WITH MY PARTNER FOR YEARS, WE’RE NOT MARRIED. DO I NEED TO MAKE A WILL?

Yes! If you and your partner are not married or in a civil partnership, your partner will not be automatically entitled to any of your assets when you die – no matter how long your relationship has been – unless you make a Will.

Instead your estate will be divided according to the rules of intestacy which determine which relatives are entitled to your estate leaving your partner with nothing. Even if you have no relatives, your estate will pass to the Government rather than to your partner.

Your partner might be able to claim some of your assets if they are in need or were financially dependent on you, but that could be a costly and contentious procedure. To ensure that your partner inherits as you would want, a Will is essential.

WHAT IF I HAVE PREVIOUSLY BEEN MARRIED OR IN A CIVIL PARTNERSHIP?

Preparing a Will is always important and allows you to decide who benefits from your estate. If you have children from a previous relationship, making a Will can be even more important.

It is common for people from previous relationships to have children and in these circumstances they have to be considered, as well as your partner, otherwise there may be a claim against your estate.

If you do not have a Will the intestacy rules are very strict and do not take account of modern day family situations such as second marriages and step-children.

Many people want to ensure that there is sufficient financial provision for their spouse but also want to make sure that their children do not lose out in the long term.

A simple solution to this is to prepare a Will as a method of lifetime planning which may include a provision relating to the property in which you were both living and allows you to leave a share of your property to your children whilst giving the surviving spouse the right to live in the property rent free for the rest of their lifetime. On the survivor’s death that share of the property passes to the children, this protects your interest in the property for your children. This type of Will can also be useful when planning for long term care issues.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD I REVIEW MY WILL?

You should check every couple of years that your Will meets your requirements and particularly if you have had a significant change in circumstances since your last Will was made. For example if you have married or entered a civil partnership since you made your last Will, it will have been revoked.

IS A WILL ALL I NEED?

Depending on your circumstances, a lifetime trust may be relevant in planning for the future when considering inheritance tax and potential care fees.

By making a Will you are deciding what you want to happen when you die. You should also consider making arrangements that may be needed before you die, for example, Lasting Powers of Attorney under which you choose someone to look after your affairs if you become incapable of, or unwilling to, manage your own affairs.

CAN I MAKE A WILL FOR SOMEONE ELSE?

Yes, subject to certain safeguards and by making an application to the Court of Protection which is a government department and where the decision about making a statutory will is taken.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I DIE?

The executors you appoint in your Will become responsible for dealing with your estate in accordance with that Will. In the majority of cases it will be necessary to obtain a Grant of Probate which is the executor’s legal authority to deal with your estate.

HOW DO I MAKE A WILL?

Contact us in Carlisle on 01228 888999 or Cockermouth on 01900 820800 or email us on rcameron@bpkcumbria.co.uk or jwalker@bpkcumbria.co.uk to make an appointment or for further information.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

Simple Wills

For making a single Will are £200 plus VAT (£240) or £300 plus VAT (£360) for a couple making similar Wills.

Wills involving tax planning/businesses/trusts

In the region of £1,000 - £2,000 plus VAT (these are charged on an hourly rate basis).

Packages
Individual making a Will and one Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) £500 plus VAT (£600)
Individual making a Will and two LPAs £700 plus VAT (£840)
Couple making Wills and one LPA each £800 plus VAT (£960)
Couple making Wills and two LPAs £1,000 plus VAT (£1,200)

To be effective, each Lasting Power of Attorney has to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian which charges £110 per LPA.

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