Wills, Will Drafting and Succession

Wills, Will Drafting and Succession

A Will is a legally binding document in which you specify what is to happen to your estate following your death. This is a very important document so careful thought and consideration should be made when creating the terms of your Will.

Why Do I Need A Will?

A Will is a legally binding document specifying what happens to your estate following death. Your estate can include money, property and possessions.  If you have young children, you may name guardians to look after them whilst they are minors.  If you are divorced or in the process of getting divorced, it is important to review and update your will.

If you are looking to make a Will, you must decide who to appoint as executors and trustees. They will be responsible for administering your estate and any trusts arising under the terms of your Will, in accordance with the law including tax aspects.

If you do not make a Will, your estate will be distributed in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy.  These Rules lay down which relatives will inherit in the event of your death and what their entitlement will be.  Cohabitees do not receive any benefit at all under these Rules and spouses will not necessarily inherit the whole of the estate.

How Often Do I Need To Update My Will?

We recommend that you update your Will every 5 years, or earlier if your marital status changes for example by marriage, divorce or separation.

Who Are Executors?

When making your Will, you decide who to appoint as executors, personal representatives and trustees.  They will be responsible for administering your estate and any trusts arising under the terms of your Will.  The same people can be appointed for both roles but in certain circumstances it can be beneficial to name different people for the two roles.

Your executor(s) must always act in the best interests of your beneficiaries whilst ensuring they follow the law, including taxation, and the provisions in your Will.  It can be a very demanding role and you may wish to consider the appointment of professional executors and trustees.

You may come across the term ‘Executrix’. This is a female executor of a will. Nowadays the term ‘Executor’ is used for both male and female.

Requirements For A Valid Will

For a will to be valid, it must obey the following principles:

  1. The Testator must be over the age of 18.
  2. The Testator must have mental capacity.
  3. The Will must be made voluntarily and the Testator must not be under duress.
  4. The Will must be in writing and be signed by the Testator in the presence of two witnesses.

Where To Keep A Will

A Will and any codicils* should be stored somewhere that is accessible to your executors – it is important that you tell them where to find your Will.  If your executors cannot find your Will in the event of your death, you will be intestate.  Where is safest for your Will to be stored?

  • Most solicitors are able to store Wills securely for their clients.
  • The Probate Service (England and Wales) can store Wills for you.
  • You can store a Will yourself, however this is not recommended because they can easily be lost/damaged.

Whether you plan to create a Will with Coole Bevis LLP, or have one already made, we are able to store them securely.

*A Codicil is a document which amends your Will.

What Happens If I Die Without A Will?

If you die without a valid Will or your executors cannot find it, you become ‘intestate’. The estate will be administered under ‘Intestacy Rules’ which lay down which relatives can inherit and what their entitlement will be. There is no provision for cohabitees to receive any benefit at all under these Rules and spouses do not necessarily inherit the whole of the estate.

For an estate to be administered as an Intestate estate, additional costs and expenses may be incurred as it may necessitate research of the family tree to ascertain who the legal beneficiaries are.

Will There Be Inheritance Tax To Pay On My Estate?

In the UK, there is a threshold tax allowance of £325,000* (the ‘nil rate band’) and your estate can collectively add up to this amount before it is taxed; anything over that sum could be taxed by up to 40%. This means that if you own an estate worth £500,000 the tax bill could be up to £70,000. Depending on your circumstances, your estate may qualify for additional allowances including the residence nil rate band and / or the transferable nil rate band.

Unfortunately, many people are unaware of how inheritance tax can adversely affect their direct descendants; seeking advice from a solicitor when making your Will can help to manage this.

*(tax year 2021/2022)

What Is Inheritance Tax Planning?

Inheritance Tax Planning can help you minimise the amount of inheritance tax due, or help you qualify for tax exemption.

Gifting money and property whilst you are still alive is one option, but is subject to various restrictions which we can explain.

Your unused ‘nil-rate band’ can be passed on to your surviving spouse or civil partner. They may have this in addition to their own nil rate band so potentially doubling for them the amount they can bequeath tax free.

Your pension after retirement can also be used as a tax-efficient way to pass on wealth.

Trusts can also reduce an IHT bill as you can keep lump sums outside of an estate, protecting future generations.

Should I Leave A Gift To Charity In My Will?

Gifting to your favourite charity in a Will can have positive, lasting impact and can help reduce the Inheritance Tax bill. There are three different types of legacies:

  • Pecuniary; a gift of a fixed cash sum.
  • Specific; a gift of a particular item or asset.
  • Residuary; a gift of the whole, or a share, of your estate after debts and expenses have been paid.

What Is A Grant Of Probate?

Grant of Probate is the legal document issued by the High Court confirming the validity of the Will and that the appointed executors have the authority to administer the deceased’s estate. The executors will collect in the assets, pay liabilities and expenses and distribute what remains to the beneficiaries. This process is called ‘administering an estate’.

Why Do I Need A Grant Of Probate When I Have A Will?

People often assume that if there is a Will, probate will not be required. However, depending on the nature and value of the assets within the estate, it is likely that probate will be necessary for the administration of the estate.

Why Use A Solicitor To Write Your Will?

When creating any legally binding document, it is important to have the assistance of an expert. The creation of a Will is not always simple and straightforward.

Coole Bevis LLP are able to provide a valuable and cost-effective service if you decide to create a Will with us. We will always deliver confidential advice with your best interests at heart, handling every arrangement for your estate with care. If at the end of the transaction you need your Will to be stored, we are able to do so for you.

How Do I Challenge A Will?

If you are looking to challenge a Will please visit our Wills and Probate disputes page.

What Are The Benefits Of Using A Solicitor?

By drawing up a Will with a solicitor, you could save your family unnecessary time and stress which could arise due to complications of a poorly drafted Will. It is particularly important to use a solicitor to write your Will if:

  • You have assets overseas.  Even if a Will has been made under UK law, it is not guaranteed your assets overseas will be passed straight to the beneficiaries. There may be a conflict of laws or rules in the country where your assets are located, therefore you will need to discuss your circumstances with a solicitor so it can be decided which country’s law is governing and who will inherit your assets.
  • You run a businessIf you are a business owner, it is essential that you create a Will to secure your assets and avoid them being disbursed in contradiction of your wishes. Succession planning with our team ensures your business will end up in safe hands and that your beneficiaries receive what has been specifically outlined in your Will.
  • You have to pay Inheritance Tax. Making a Will is a large part of estate planning because you can plan how your estate is distributed in line with your wishes.
  • Your family position is complicated.  In complex family situations, it is sensible to make a Will to avoid a time-consuming and stressful process, which sometimes ends in legal disputes.

COST OF WILLS

At Coole Bevis LLP we offer a Will writing service which meets not only the rigorous standards set by the Solicitors Regulation Authority but also those set by the STEP (The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) https://www.step.org/sites/default/files/Policy/Public_Guide_to_Will_Code.pdf

Only our qualified and experienced Solicitors prepare Wills so you can be sure of a top class service. Our service includes the initial meeting with you to enable our solicitors to take full detailed instructions from you, preparation and submission of initial draft Will for consideration by you, all correspondence and telephone attendances upon you, drafting any amendments to the draft Will and resubmission to you, upon approval preparing the Will in readiness for signature by you, attending upon you to sign the Will and providing you with a copy of the completed document.

We recommend once completed that your Will is stored with us to ensure it is not lost or damaged, a service for which there is no additional cost.

Will Type Cost Range
Single Will without trust and inheritance tax advice £450.00 – £550.00 plus VAT depending upon complexity
Single Will with trust and inheritance tax advice £600.00 – £900.00 plus VAT depending upon complexity
Pair of Mirror Wills without trust and inheritance tax advice £550.00 – £800.00 plus VAT depending upon complexity
Pair of Mirror Wills with trust and inheritance tax advice £900.00 – £1,750 plus VAT depending upon complexity

Sometimes it may be more appropriate to quote on an hourly basis if your instructions are particularly complex, in which case the hourly charges will range from £245.00 plus VAT per hour for an Assistant Solicitor to £260.00 plus VAT per hour for an Executive Partner.

Generally speaking initial meetings last between ½ hr – 1 hr in length during which you will be asked to provide information about your family circumstances and to supply details of your assets and liabilities so that our solicitors can ensure you are given full and appropriate advice. Time frames for the submission of the draft Will to you for approval will be discussed during your initial meeting.

We are able to offer free home visits within a 10 mile radius of any of our offices for the elderly and disabled for whom attendance at an office would be difficult.

If Wills are not completed we charge a proportionate fee for all work undertaken on your behalf.

Please note the cost information provided here is general by way of example, you will be provided with more precise and personalised information at your initial meeting.

WILL DRAFTING AND SUCCESSION TEAM

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