Guide to Making a Will 

A guide to making a will from Whiteheads Solicitors

Why should I make a will?  

 

If you die without having made a will, the state will determine who will benefit from your assets and belongings, which may not reflect your choices.

 

Spouses, partners, relatives, friends or charities will receive nothing/

 

If you have no close family. your estate can pass to relatives you may never have met or may
even go to the state.

 

Making a will not only enables you to specify how much you want to leave to whom, it also enables you to appoint guardians for children or other dependants, leave money to a favourite charity
or to provide for pets.
 

You can set up a trust for a dependant or vulnerable person and even leave instructions for your funeral.

 

Making a will not only enables you to specify how much you want to leave to whom, it also enables you to appoint guardians for children or other dependants, leave money to a favourite charity, or to provide for pets.

 

You can set up a trust for a dependant or vulnerable person and even leave instructions for your funeral. 

 

 

Won't my partner just inherit everything? 

 

It is particulary important to make a will if you are not married or registered in a civil partnership, because the law does not automatically recognise partners who live together (cohabitants) as having
the same rights as husbands, wives and civil partners.

 

A surviving partner in this case is not automatically entitled to anything unless it is determined in a will. They may even have to issue court proceedings to ensure they receive reasonable provision from
your estate. 

 

Even if you are married or in civil partnership, if you don't have a will there are limits on what partners will inherit from each other if you have children and other surviving relatives. 

 

 

Why choose Whiteheads to help you make your will? 

 

You can draw up your will without the help of a solicitor, but this can be risky.

 

If the will is at all unclear, or if it does not follow various legal formalities, then it will be made invalid. 

 

At Whiteheads, we are able to draw upon a wide range of legal skills and experience to give you valuable professional advice on writing your will.

 

This will ensure that, following your death, your estate is allocated according to your wishes and in a way that minimises the impact of inheritance tax. 

 

 

What will Whiteheads need to know? 

 

The value of your estate 

 

Your estate is the value of your assets less the value of liabilities.

 

We will want to know details of every asset you own (and whether any are held jointly
with another person) including:

 

- Property 

- Cars 

- Stocks and Shares 

- Bank, Building Society and any other savings accounts

- Insurance Policies 

- Businesses 

- Pensions 

- Any other assets

 

We will also need to hear about your liabilities, or details of everything you owe, including: 

 

- Mortgage - and details of any life insurance that cover it

- Loans and overdrafts

- Credit card debts 

- Credit or hire purchase agreements 

- Any other liabilites that may be due in the future

 

 

Who do you want to leave your estate to? 

 

Decide who you want to leave your estate to.

 

You may want to divide your property between family, friends or charities. You can specify particular items or a fixed sum or a proportion of your estate to go to certain people or charities.

 

You can even leave a gift to someone to last for their lifetime - for instance a property that they can continue to use until their death after which it will belong to your children. 

 

Your solicitor will need to know whether you are single, living with a partner, married or in a civil partnership and whether you have been divorced or had a civil partnership dissolved. They will also need to know if you have any children or other dependants. 

 

If you have children who may be under 18 when you die, you may want to name someone as a legal guardian. 

 

You can also leave particular instructions for your funeral or perhaps for organ donation. 

 

 

Executors 

 

Executors are people you choose to carry out the administration of your will after you die. 

 

They may be friends, family or a professional advisor such as your solicitor. Make sure the people you ask are happy to take on what can be a long-term duty. 

 

Executors will gather all the information about your estate after your death, including getting valuations of property and other belongings. They will usually also act as trustees of any beneficiaries who are under 18. 

 

 

Signing the will 

 

Once it has been drawn up, you must sign your will to make it valid.

 

Your signature must be witnessed by two independent people in your presence and in the presence of each other.

 

The witness should not benefit from the will in any way. Many people use the staff at their solicitor's office as witnesses.

 

 

Where should I keep my will?

 

It is important to keep your will in a safe place and make sure your executors know where it is. At Whiteheads, we will place the original of your will in safe storage for you free of charge.

 

 

Keeping your will up to date 

 

A will should be reassessed at least every five years. It is possible to make small changes to an existing will (codicils), although if there are major changes it may be advisable to draw up a new will. 

 

It is important to tell your solicitor of any changes that may affect your will, such as getting married, seperated or divorced, or if you have a child or move house. 

 

 

How much will it cost? 

 

Standard wills - Single £125 + VAT, Married couple £200 + VAT.

 

Please note: with more complex wills, additional charges will be incurred. 

 

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