Do I need professional advice to make a Will?
Yes. Taking proper legal advice will ensure that you consider all the implications of your decisions. It will help you to think about issues you may not have been aware of and it will help you to make decisions which are as tax efficient as possible.
If you have complicated financial or familial arrangements, it is crucial to take advice from a qualified, specialist solicitor who will take the time to understand your situation and make sure that all issues are considered and dealt with.
Taking professional advice will ensure that your Will is valid and compliant with statutory requirements. A Will which fails to comply with a technical statutory requirement will be invalid.
What does a Will do?
A Will is how you can control your estate when you die. Your estate may include your house and any other property that you own, your possessions (referred to as “chattels”), money in bank or other accounts, investments, savings of any sort and your business. All of these things together make up your “estate”.
A Will is how you get to decide who should inherit, how much they inherit, when they inherit and who is in charge of collecting and distributing your assets. It enables you to benefit those who need it the most and to gift to charities should you wish.
If you have children, a Will enables you to appoint guardians in the event that both parents die whilst the children are under 18. If you have children, It is vital to provide as much security and certainty as possible both for your children and for the wider family with responsibility for them.
A Will also enables you to express your wishes over what type of burial you want.
A properly drafted Will can prevent (or put to rest) family disputes which could otherwise arise.
What happens if I do not have a Will?
If you do not have a valid Will, your estate will be distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy.
A few important things to understand are:
What should I think about before I make a Will?
It is important to think about your family circumstances, your assets and who you would most like to benefit. It is also important to think about guardianship options for your children and talk first to your chosen guardians. Think about who you want to be in charge of your estate when you die and talk to those concerned before your Will is written.
Even in the most basic and straight forward situation, there are things to consider and wider implications of the decisions that you make. The more complicated your family or financial situation, the more issues need to be considered.
Here are some basic things to consider to get you started:
What about inheritance tax?
Inheritance tax applies to the value of your estate. It is a tax on your estate not a tax on the beneficiaries although it will reduce the value of the estate which they inherit.
If you think that the value of your estate might be such that inheritance tax will apply, it is important to consult a specialist solicitor at the time of writing your Will, to consider tax efficient ways to plan your estate. We have all worked hard for our assets and savings and want to ensure that they pass as far as possible to those that we love.
Inheritance tax at 40% is paid on every penny in your net estate which is falls over the inheritance tax threshold. Inheritance tax used to be seen as a tax for the wealthy. It now affects far more people, many of whom would not expect it. This is largely due to the huge increase in the value of property which has out-stripped any increase to the tax threshold.
The individual inheritance tax free limit (known as the “nil rate band”) is £325,000. If you are married, your limit can be “passed” to your spouse (if you do not use it when you die) so that when (s)he dies their limit will be £650,000. There is also an additional “residence nil rate band” which applies to the value in your family home if it is inherited by direct lineal descendants, this is set at £175,000 per person and, like the nil rate band, can be passed to your spouse.
For further advice or to make an appointment please contact:
Anna Neil or James Ashby 01823 745777 e. firstname.lastname@example.org
Ben Simpson, Emily Simpson or Kerry Rickets 01643 707777 e. email@example.com