Do I Have To Write A Will?

The thing about dying is that it’s not planned, it’s not in your diary, and it’s definitely not on your bucket list.

But the other thing about dying is that it happens to absolutely everyone. And all of us will leave people behind who will miss us. We’ve all been there too – when someone close to you dies it leaves both a hole in your life and some regrets.

How much worse is it if your loved one has died without making a Will? So yes. You have to write a Will. You owe it to those you leave behind to make your passing less traumatic.

Plan for your children

Having children is the most important reason for writing a Will.

You need to make provision for your children, especially if your children are still dependent on you. If your children are old enough to fend for themselves, you still need to mention your wishes for them.

It is important to discuss your plans with your child’s other parent, so you are both singing from the same hymnsheet.

You’ll have to bear in mind your children’s age and any health issues before deciding who to approach to ask to be their guardian – you also need to consider the age and health of a potential guardian.

Once you have an agreement, you should put a relevant clause in your Will.

Bear in mind that if you die without writing a Will and there is no-one else with parental responsibility for your children to take over from you, you are leaving it up to the courts to decide who looks after your children. As they may not make the same choices as you, it is essential that you make your wishes clear in your valid Will.

Consider your partner or spouse

If a legal spouse or civil partner dies without a valid Will, the inheritance rules depend on whether the deceased has any children.

If they do, the surviving legal spouse or civil partner will inherit the first £270,000.00 worth of assets and one half of the remainder, the other half is divided between the deceased’s children (this does not include stepchildren).

If they don’t have any children, the surviving legal spouse or civil partner automatically inherits the entire estate.

This does not apply to couples who are not married or in a legal civil partnership.

In the eyes of the law there is no such thing as a common-law husband or wife, no matter how long you have been together or lived together.

So if you are NOT married …

If you are NOT married to your partner, or if you are NOT in a civil partnership and you have NOT made Wills reflecting your wishes your partner will NOT be entitled to any part of your estate on your death. They may be left with no home and no money in the event of your death.

So in any case, the advice is – have an up-to-date will!

Protect your bloodline

If you have any money or assets to leave under the terms of your Will, it might be worth setting up a trust fund to protect young and/or vulnerable beneficiaries.

Many people wish to ensure their estate does not pass outside of their bloodline.

This can be done by leaving your spouse/civil partner/partner the right to live in your share of the family home rather than leaving it to them absolutely, that way if they meet a new partner they cannot leave your share of the property to their new partner.

Likewise, if your partner requires care in the future, your share of the property will be protected for your ultimate beneficiaries and not used to pay for their care.

Make your wishes known

Your Will is the perfect place to discuss any other wishes you may have, including your funeral, distributing bequests to friends and other individuals, and leaving legacies to charities.

I know I need a Will, what do I do now?

You can have a fully valid simple Will for £175 plus VAT. To get started with making your simple Will, download the form below, print it out and fill it in. You can then email it to bryony.wilmshurst@cunningtons.co.uk, or post it to:

Wills and Probate Department, Cunningtons LLP, Great Square, Braintree, Essex CM7 1UD

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

The following are common questions we get asked about Wills and Probate. If you cannot find the answer here, please contact us for an answer.

We would strongly advise against drafting your own Will or downloading a pro-forma on line.

There is an increasing amount of litigation that arises from incorrectly drafted Wills, often Wills drafted by people who are not legally qualified do not do what the person drafting them thinks they do which can cause significant problems and delays in the event of your death.

Often, it ends up costing far more to rectify any errors than the cost of a Will professionally drafted.

Yes, we can act as Executors for you. Professional Executors will charge for acting.

We can store your original Will free of charge in our Strong Room.

We will only release it to you during your lifetime upon receipt of your identification, to your Attorney in the event of loss of mental capacity if you have authorised your Attorney to have access to your Will under your Lasting Power of Attorney or to your Executors on your death upon receipt of your original Death Certificate and the identification and authority of all your Executors.

If you are over the age of 18, have assets or children a Will is the only way to ensure that your wishes will be carried out in the event of your death.

Upon receipt of your instructions we aim to send you a draft of your Will for your approval within 7 days.

If there are no unforeseen circumstances it is likely that your Will will be signed within a month of us receiving instructions from you.

A Will should be reviewed whenever your personal or financial circumstances change significantly or if your beneficiaries’ circumstances change significantly.

We recommend that you review your Will at least every five years to ensure it still accords with your wishes and is still appropriate for your circumstances.

Joint Wills are very rare and problematic these days. It is more usual to have Mirror Wills which is where you each have a Will but on similar terms. It is important to bear in mind that with Mirror Wills once you have left your estate to your partner, your partner is then free to do whatever he or she wishes with your assets, they could leave what they have inherited from you to a new partner. For more information please see Asset Protection Trust

A Guardian is a person or people who will look after your children in the event of your death, they will be responsible for bringing up your children.

A Will is a legal document which sets out what you would like to happen to your assets in the event of your death, who you would like to administer your estate, who you would like to look after your children and your funeral wishes.

An Executor is a person who will administer your estate in accordance with the terms of your Will, they will complete relevant tax returns and apply for the Grant of Probate before collecting in the assets and distributing them to your beneficiaries.

An Executor can be anyone over the age of 18, it is important that you appoint not only someone that you trust but someone who is capable of handling the administration of your estate in what is likely to be an emotional and stressful time.

Before appointing an Executor you may wish to discuss the matter with the person or persons involved to ensure they are willing to be named as Executor in your Will, although this is not essential and as the Will is personal to you, you might not wish to disclose details to an Executor.

If you appoint someone other than your Solicitor and they refuse to carry out the duties after your death then problems could arise.