A Will can be one of the simplest tools in your estate plan. Done properly, it is also a powerful way to look after your loved ones after your death.
What is a Will?
A Will is a formal legal document that creates a set of instructions confirming who your most loved people are, and how you want them to be looked after once you have died. The main aim of a Will is to create certainty, both for yourself, in your lifetime, and for the people left behind, after your death.
Why do I need a Will?
The clarity of a thoughtful, well-advised Will can:
- strengthen your relationships in your lifetime and ensure you leave a legacy of healthy relationships after your death;
- avoid unnecessary administration and stress after your death; and
- ensure that your wealth passes to the people you choose, rather than to the government (via taxation) or to lawyers (via legal fees if things go wrong).
What happens if I die without a Will?
If you die without a Will in England and Wales then the intestacy rules will decide what happens to your estate.
Here are some examples of how the intestacy rules work in practice:
- If you’re in a relationship but not married or in a civil partnership, then your partner has no automatic right to benefit from your estate, even if you are engaged or living together.
- If you are married and you have children, your spouse is not necessarily entitled to all of your estate. They take the ‘statutory legacy’ of £270,000 and your personal belongings. The rest is split 50:50 between your spouse and your children, even if your children are still minors. You can read more about the intestacy rules and how they apply to you here.
- Step-children have no automatic entitlement to your estate. • The intestacy rules don’t care about what is or is not inheritance tax efficient – often tax is charged when it needn’t have been.
- The intestacy rules don’t care about protecting your assets if you have wayward children or other beneficiaries – inheritance happens at age 18 regardless of circumstances.
Other reasons for making a Will
Even if the intestacy rules are likely to achieve the outcome you want for your financial assets, there are many other good reasons to prepare a Will:
- If you have children, you should appoint guardians so that you, as opposed to the family courts, get to decide who looks after them in the event of your death.
- You can choose people you trust as executors to deal with your financial affairs.
- You might want to include funeral wishes so that your loved ones know exactly what you would like to happen to your body when you die.
- Above all, having a Will creates certainty and can avoid increased administration costs, unnecessary taxes, hurtful family arguments and expensive litigation.
I want to create a Will – what next?
It’s simple to make your Will with Isla Law! Just follow the four steps below:
1. Receive our questionnaire
One of the team will send you a straightforward questionnaire to collect some key facts about you and your circumstances. Or you can find them here
2. Complete our questionnaire
We’ve designed each one so that we can give you tailor-made advice. It should only take you about 30 minutes to complete!
3. Come to your meeting
We will then arrange for you to meet one to one with a qualified Isla Law adviser. Meetings are held either in person or remotely via Zoom or Teams. At the meeting, we will go through your individual circumstances in detail and give you advice about any documents you might need, such as a Will or Lasting Powers of Attorney, or how a longer process such as probate will be handled.
4. Sign your documents
If you make legal documents that need to be signed, we offer a further meeting to go through the signing process with you.
What happens after I’ve signed my Will?
After signing your Will, you should make sure that it is kept somewhere safe and accessible. We can offer a storage service via The National Will Archive – here are more details! We also recommend that you tell your executors or someone else that you trust exactly where to find your Will.
Once you’ve made your Will, you will also need to make sure it is up to date and that it remains valid. We recommend checking your Will every 3-5 years or whenever your circumstances change. Make sure you tell us if there are any changes you want to make to your Will or if it becomes out of date – we are always on hand to have a chat!
Wills can also be revoked, which means they are no longer valid. For example, if you have married after you made your Will you might not realise that your old Will has been revoked. Let us know if there is a major change in your circumstances, and we can advise on whether or not an update is needed.
How much does a Will cost?
Making a Will is not as expensive or complicated as most people think. Our costs start from £195 plus VAT for a simple Will and £295 plus VAT for mirror Wills. Have a look at our costs section here for more details or this article to find out how much a Will should cost and what sort of thing will affect the price.