Making a Will is extremely important, so it pays to understand exactly what is involved and what you can do to prepare.
We strongly advise you to see a solicitor before actually making or changing your Will. This guide contains only general advice and is not designed to cover all aspects of Wills or legacies. Your tax and financial situation is unique to you and a solicitor will be able to offer advice that is tailored to fit. If you don't have a solicitor, the names and addresses of local practices can be found through the Law Society or in Yellow Pages, public libraries and the Citizens' Advice Bureau. Or you may prefer to choose one through the personal recommendation of friends or family.
It's a good idea to work out the approximate value of your Estate so that you can decide on specific bequests and avoid overlooking any important items. Your solicitor will also need to know the value so that any Inheritance Tax implications can be taken into account and explained (bear in mind that Inheritance Tax may vary from year to year). Our leaflet 'Valuing your Estate' will guide you through the valuation process.
Ask your solicitor for advice on inheritance tax, transfer of title and other legal factors as this will help you decide how best to divide up your assets. For example, you may have children or grandchildren to consider. There may be other relatives or close friends you would like to like to leave something to. And if you admire the work of a particular charity you can have the satisfaction of knowing that anything you leave them will help them to continue their good work after your death. Your solicitor will remind you that gifts to charity will help to reduce the burden of inheritance tax on the remainder of your Estate.
You can appoint a maximum of four executors and it is recommended that you should appoint at least two. Their role is to ensure that your wishes are carried out. An executor may also be a beneficiary in your Will, so you can choose your spouse or children (providing they are over 18 years old).
When your Will has been prepared, it must be signed and witnessed. You must have two independent witnesses, and each of them must sign in the presence of you and the other witness. The name, address and occupation of witnesses should be recorded with their signature. But please note that your witnesses should not be beneficiaries under your Will because any gifts to them will become invalid.
There are no fixed rates and you should ask your solicitor for a quotation before proceeding. A regular review is important Our lives change constantly - births, deaths, marriages, divorce, retirement, property sales and purchase can all have an enormous impact on the value of your Estate and the way you wish to leave it. We recommend that you review your Will every few years to see how any changes have affected it and to be sure that it continues to reflect your intentions. To change your existing Will If your planned changes are small - such as making a specific legacy - it may not be necessary to change the whole document. It is wise to consult your solicitor, but you may be able to record any changes by adding a Codicil. Please note that any Codicil must be signed and witnessed in the same way as a full Will to make it legal.
You can cancel or 'revoke' a Will but it is not necessary if you are replacing it with a new one. A new Will normally includes wording that cancels all previous Wills with words such as 'I hereby revoke all previous Wills, Codicils and testamentary provisions made by me at any time and declare this to be my last Will.'
After your death, any inheritance tax due on your Estate must be paid to the Inland Revenue before probate is granted. This must happen before your beneficiaries can access your money and it could mean that they have to raise a loan in order to release your money. There are also exemptions to paying this tax, including Estates left by spouses to each other, certain reliefs such as agricultural and business relief and gifts to charities.
If you lose your Will it would still be considered legally valid until you executed a new one. Most people ask the solicitor who drew up their Will to keep the original and give them a copy.
It is not necessary to register your Will with any authority. However, you should make sure it is kept in a safe place (together with any Codicils) and let your executors know where it is so that they can find it swiftly in the event of your death. This folder has been designed to help you to keep all of your important documents together. You may find it helpful to ask your solicitor to retain the original version of your Will and provide you with a copy.
For further information or to receive a Will Writing information pack please contact us.
Phone: 057 8731071
Home visits or talks to groups can also be arranged.