Frequently Asked Questions
We understand writing a Will can be a complicated business. That’s why we’re trying to make it as simple and as straightforward as possible by answering the most commonly asked questions.
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This is a very common assumption to make but, in many cases, it might not be this simple.
If your estate is worth less than £250,000, it will all pass to your partner, provided you are married or in a civil partnership. If you are not married, your partner is not entitled to anything.
If your estate is worth more than £250,000, then the first £250,000 passes to your spouse/civil partner with all of your personal possessions. The remaining amount is then divided into two. Your spouse/civil partner will receive the interest or income from the first 50% while your children will receive an equal share of the remaining 50%. When your spouse/civil partner dies, the half they were receiving the income from, then passes to your children equally.
If you do not have any children, your partner inherits the first £450,000 and half of your estate. The remainder will go to your closest living relative (e.g. parents, siblings, nieces and nephews). Any step-children you have will not inherit anything.
Any estate in excess of the Nil Rate Band will be subject to Inheritance Tax.
To make a Will in England and Wales, you must be over the age of 18, and be ‘of sound mind (legally referred to as “having testamentary capacity”). In order to make the Will valid, the person writing it needs to:
- Understand they are making a Will
- Understand the extent of their estate
- Understand the effect their Will may have on their dependants.
Legally you don’t need to write your Will with the help of a solicitor in the same way you don’t legally need a doctor to treat an illness. However there have been many examples where people have written a Will without the assistance of a qualified solicitor and ended up with an invalid document. This can happen for a number of reasons from basic spelling mistakes and grammatical errors to failure in its execution (e.g. witnessing).
Making a Will is something many people put off doing. Our customers have listed many reasons why they put writing a Will on the back burner – I’m too busy, I’m too young, I’ve got nothing of value to leave.
In an ideal world, we would all live the grand old age of 100 but, unfortunately, we just don’t know what’s around the corner. Therefore, it’s always best to be prepared and make your Will to protect your family now. Then whenever life throws you a curve ball and your circumstances change, our team of legal specialists can help you update your existing Will easily and quickly.
When you get divorced, your ex-partner is treated as if they have ‘predeceased you’ so they will no longer benefit from your estate. However, they will also not be allowed to act as an Executor, if appointed and this could slow down the administration of your estate. If your ex-spouse was the sole Beneficiary, then your estate would be distributed under the Rules of Intestacy.
If you are separated, in the eyes of the law you are still legally married or in a civil partnership until it is dissolved so your spouse remains entitled to your estate and assets as stated in your current Will, even if you were living with a new partner when you died.
We recommend that following a divorce or legal separation, or any major change in your life, you make a new Will or update your existing Will.
Should your estate exceed the current Nil Rate Band you are liable for inheritance tax, the amount over the nil rate band will be taxed at 40%. However, with the help of our bespoke Will and Estate Planning service, there may be ways in which we could help you to minimise this.
You can appoint relatives, friends and legal professionals to act as Executors of your Will. You can appoint up to four Executors. Many people appoint their partner in the first case and then often appoint a friend, family member or a professional as a substitute. Having a professional as one of your Executors is a good idea as this person may have the technical and legal knowledge needed to administer the estate in accordance with your Will and can also remain objective at this emotional time.
Your chosen Witnesses need to be over 18, mentally capable, able to see and should not be Beneficiaries or a relation or spouse of you or your Beneficiaries.
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