The forms are downloadable from the Internet or available for a few pounds in the shops, so you can make your own Will. The question is, should you?
The main purpose of a Will is to make sure your assets go to the people you intended and to make sure your other wishes are carried out, but this is not always as straightforward as it sounds - and there is no coming back to put things right.
Things to think about
There are issues you need to bear in mind. Overlook them and things might not happen as you intended or you could even make things worse than if you had left no Will at all.
Making provision for children
For example, if you have step-children, it is necessary to use a specific form of words to include them in a Will. If you simply wrote ‘my children’, step-children would not be recognised.
When leaving cash or property to minors, a professionally drawn up will can also state how the inheritance should be managed, safeguarded and used, for example through a Trust.
Overseas property and assets
Overseas property can also impact on a Will, as different countries view inheritance in different ways, including who can inherit, what can be passed on and the tax you have to pay.
It is important to structure things properly or you could find different legal jurisdictions clashing over your entire estate. This could include multiple tax demands.
On the subject of tax, Inheritance tax planning is an important consideration when writing a Will. With the present £325,000 tax threshold, if you own a £200,000 property and inherit more than £125,000 you become liable. Many people do not realise ‘what they are worth’.
There are ways to mitigate inheritance tax, but these need to be taken care of in your Will and also through careful lifetime planning.
Do you own a business?
If so, have you considered whether or not the business would continue? If so, who would take ownership? Who would you want to run it? Would you rather it were wound up or sold?
Will a DIY Will be accepted?
Home-made Wills naturally can cause suspicion with beneficiaries, executors and the probate registry.
Were you mentally competent at the time you wrote it? Is there a newer Will in existence somewhere? Were you unduly influenced? This can lead to family disputes and legal delays.
As regulated professionals, Solicitors are impartial parties and have to follow proper procedures and safeguards when dealing with clients.
This instils confidence and means that the administration of the estate is more likely to progress without any queries or delays.
Is it worth the risk?
This is probably the biggest question you need to ask yourself.
Unless you have particularly complex financial affairs, making a Will through a Solicitor is inexpensive and could avoid costly problems later on.
- Will drafting
- Review of existing Wills
- Advice re provision for children, second families, spouses and civil partners, unmarried partners and other family members
- Advice re charitable gifts
- Advice re foreign and business assets
- Advice re Will trusts
- Inheritance Tax advice
- Advice re Trust creation and ongoing management
- Preparation of trust deeds and other trust documentation
- Declarations of Trust
- Termination of trusts
Probate and Administration of Estates
- Advice re the terms of the Will or intestacy rules where there is no Will
- Obtaining values for the various assets and liabilities in the estate, notifying the various institutions and obtaining all necessary estate information
- Obtaining a grant of probate or letters of administration as appropriate
- Dealing with and advice re Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax and Income Tax, liaising with HMRC
- Notifying and liaising with the beneficiaries of the estate
- Preparing a deed of variation or a deed of disclaimer in relation to the estate
- Selling or transferring the various assets due to the beneficiaries
- Dealing with foreign assets and Wills
- Advice re estate disputes and claims against an estate