Wills & Probate
You can protect your family and financial assets by making a Will. Should you die intestate (without a Will) you will have no control over where your assets go – assets you have worked hard for and have the right to protect.
- Do I need a solicitor?
In most cases it is not necessary to use a solicitor to make a will. Provided the will is worded correctly, as legal as if you had paid a solicitor to prepare it for you.
Therefore, our will service enables you to make a perfectly legal will without visiting a solicitor.
- What happens if I die without Making a Will?
If you die without leaving a valid will your estate will be distributed in accordance with the Laws of Intestacy. This can mean in some cases the Government getting everything!
- What are the requirements for a legally binding Will?
In order for a will to be legally valid it must meet a few basic requirements:
- The person who is making the will must be of sound mind and free of undue influence
- The will must be in the correct format
- The will must be signed by the testator and two witnesses
- When does a new will need to be made?
There are certain circumstances such as marriage that result in a will being revoked.
In these instances, it is necessary to create a new will.
- What is an executor?
An executor is responsible for applying for probate and then distributing the estate in accordance with the deceased’s Will.
- Can a beneficiary be an executor?
Yes. It is quite common for an executor to also be the main beneficiary.
- Who can witness a Will?
A suitable witness for a will is a friend or neighbor. It is important that the witness is not a beneficiary as it would void any gift left to them in the Will.
Table of contents
- Why it is important to make a will?
- Is it necessary to use a solicitor?
- How much does a solicitor cost?
- What should be included in a will?
- Who are executors?
- What are the requirements for a valid will?
- Where to keep a will?
- Looking for copies of a will after someone dies?
- Getting a copy of the will when probate has been granted?
- Change of circumstances?
- How to change a will?
- Destroying a will?
- What if the person who made the will commits suicide?
- Challenging a will Probate?
Why it is important to make a will
It is important for you to make a will whether or not you consider you have many possessions or much money. It is important to make a will because:-
- if you die without a will, there are certain rules which dictate how the money, property or possessions should be allocated. This may not be the way that you would have wished your money and possessions to be distributed
- unmarried partners and partners who have not registered a civil partnership cannot inherit from each other unless there is a will, so the death of one partner may create serious financial problems for the remaining partner
- if you have children, you will need to make a will so that arrangements for the children can be made if either one or both parents die
- it may be possible to reduce the amount of tax payable on the inheritance if advice is taken in advance and a will is made
- if your circumstances have changed, it is important that you make a will to ensure that your money and possessions are distributed according to your wishes. For example, if you have separated and your ex-partner now lives with someone else, you may want to change your will. If you are married or enter into a registered civil partnership, this will make any previous will you have made invalid.
If you are in any doubt as to whether or not you should make a will, you should consult a solicitor or a Citizens Advice Bureau who can give you lists of solicitors. To search for details of your nearest CAB, including those that can give advice by email, click on nearest CAB.
For more information about what happens if someone dies without making a will in England and Wales, see Who can inherit if there is no will – the rules of intestacy.
Is it necessary to use a solicitor
There is no need for a will to be drawn up or witnessed by a solicitor. If you wish to make a will yourself, you can do so. However, you should only consider doing this if the will is going to be straightforward.
It is generally advisable to use a solicitor or to have a solicitor check a will you have drawn up to make sure it will have the effect you want. This is because it is easy to make mistakes and, if there are errors in the will, this can cause problems after your death. Sorting out misunderstandings and disputes after your death may result in considerable legal costs, which will reduce the amount of money in the estate.
You should remember that a solicitor will charge for their services in drawing up or checking a will. They should give you the best possible information about the cost of their services. They should give you this at the beginning of their work with you.
Some common mistakes in making a will are:-
- not being aware of the formal requirements needed to make a will legally valid
- failing to take account of all the money and property available
- failing to take account of the possibility that a beneficiary may die before the person making the will
- changing the will. If these alterations are not signed and witnessed, they are invalid
- being unaware of the effect of marriage, a registered civil partnership, divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership on a will
- being unaware of the rules which exist to enable dependants to claim from the estate if they believe they are not adequately provided for. These rules mean that the provisions in the will could be overturned.
When it is particularly advisable to use a solicitor
There are some circumstances when it is particularly advisable to use a solicitor. These are where: –
- you share a property with someone who is not your husband, wife or civil partner
- you wish to make provision for a dependant who is unable to care for themselves
- there are several family members who may make a claim on the will, for example, a second wife or children from a first marriage
- your permanent home is not in the United Kingdom
- you are resident here but there is overseas property involved
- there is a business involved