Making a Will

Making a Will can help save your family money, prevent emotional turmoil, give you peace of mind and allows the flexibility to make your own choices.

It¹s an important step to putting your affairs in order and making sure that your family, friends or charities that are close to your heart, will benefit from your estate in the way you wish. Making a Will is about taking control of what will happen to your affairs when you are no longer here.

Making a Will and your marital status

When it comes to administering your estate, your marital status will influence who will benefit if you do not have a Will. To ensure your hard work goes to those who are most important to you, writing a Will is vital.

If you are married or in a civil partnership:

It is not a given that without a Will everything goes to your husband, wife or civil partner. Children, siblings and even in-laws may inherit part of your estate.

If you are unmarried or cohabiting:

The law does not regard co-habiting couples in the same way it does married couples or those in civil partnerships. No matter how long you have lived together, your partner may not be entitled to anything unless provision is made through a Will. If you do have a joint mortgage or savings, they will automatically pass on to the person who jointly owns them with you.

If you are separated, divorced or have a change in circumstances:

If you are separated it may be possible for your ex-partner to inherit some of your estate, unless there is a Will in place. If you have already drawn up a Will and your circumstances change, such as marriage, divorce or separation, part of your Will may become invalid and a new Will should be drawn up.

If you are a parent:

When writing a Will, appointing a guardian for any dependent children you may have, should mean they do not have to be placed into care. If no provision is made, a court will appoint an official guardian and this may not be a person you would choose and possibly not even a family member.

The guardian you appoint will be responsible for ensuring that your child or children are fed, clothed, attend school and are looked after in the same way they would be if their parents were around to do so. The role of guardian is a very responsible one and should not be entered into lightly.

The person making the Will and the nominated guardian should discuss in detail what this will mean.

If you are single:

If you are single, your estate will go to your next of kin and those who you would have liked to have benefited may not be entitled to anything. If you have no next of kin and do not make a Will, your estate will be passed on to the Crown (government) and all proceeds will go to them.

To be in control of what happens to your estate, as well as any funeral specifics, making a Will is essential.

Property

If you own property with your partner as ‘joint tenants¹, then it will automatically pass over to the other. This is how most married couples, civil partners and cohabiting couples own their property. However, if you are divorced or own a property with a friend, as is becoming increasingly common, you may not want your property to pass on to the person you jointly own the asset with. For this to be possible it will mean you¹ll have to change the joint ownership by way of “severance of tenancy”. This means that you will become “tenants in common” where you would each have your own specified share of the property, which you can leave to someone else in your Will.

Can my Will be contested?

As a Will is a legal document specifying your wishes, it cannot be easily changed after your death. However, there are certain circumstances where a Will can be contested. It may be possible to argue, depending on the circumstances, that the person making the Will at the time did not understand what they were doing or were coerced into making it. It is also possible to contest a Will if someone who is dependent on the deceased has been left out ­ whether on purpose or by accident.

When should you change your Will?

It is advisable to review your will every three years or when you have a change in circumstances such as:

  • If you remarry, your Will may become invalid and will need to be changed
  • If you have more children or grandchildren you may wish to include them in your Will
  • If you increase your wealth enough to be liable for inheritance tax
  • If you are divorcing or separating

Many people try to save money by writing their own will, this is often a false economy, it is not advisable to alter your own Will, doing so may render it invalid, causing many costly problems for the executors. At Barber & Co, we can advise you on whether you need a new Will or Codicil.

Storing your Will

A problem many encounter when a person dies is knowing where the Will is. At Barber & Co, we offer a lifetime secure storage service for a single low-cost payment. Contact us for full details of our storage service that includes a ’living box’ service that comes with a full probate guide for the executors.