Making a Will

Solicitors For Will Writing

Writing a will might not be top of our 'to do' list, however there are very good reasons why having a valid will is so important. The following page explains why we should all make a will and how our expert will writing solicitors at Osbornes Law can help.

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  • “The agile team at Osbornes acts for a wide range of high-net-worth individuals and families in complex estate and trust litigation, advising on a wide array of contentious trust and estate matters.”

  • “Jan is an expert in international probate work and is praised for a sensible and pragmatic approach to cases.”

Why making a will is so important

Throughout our adult lives, we are encouraged to take the time to make a Will. This is so important, for the following reasons:

  1. If you die without a Will, there are rules which will dictate how your Estate (money, property, land, other possessions) should be allocated. When making a will, ensure that your wishes are very clear.
  2. If your current Will is poorly drafted or is out of date, there is no guarantee your assets and possessions will pass onto those people you wanted to inherit from you. This can cause more stress and perhaps financial difficulty for those left behind. Disputes relating to Wills can be costly and time-consuming to resolve.
  3. When writing a Will you can also state who you wish to be responsible for distributing your assets and, if needed, identify who will be the guardian of your children, if they are under 18 years of age.
  4. Unmarried partners and those partners who have not registered a civil partnership cannot inherit from each other unless they have a Will. Not making a Will may create serious financial problems for the remaining partner.
  5. You may be able to reduce the amount of inheritance tax payable if you take advice in advance of your death and a Will is prepared.
  6. Your circumstances may have changed, for example, you may have separated and your ex-partner is living with someone else.

Speak to a Solicitor about Writing a Will

For a free initial conversation call 020 7485 8811

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    • "A medium-sized London firm dealing with big litigation and doing it extremely well because of a depth of expertise and experience."

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    • My family had the pleasure of Jan Atkinson working with us on the will and probate issues of [my mother's] estate in Camden and Ireland after she passed on last year. Jan and her assistant(s) offered us a fantastic service at a sad time.

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    Writing a Will FAQs

    What age should I be when I make my Will?

    To make a Will in England and Wales you must be 18 years or over. There are only two categories that are legally allowed to make a Will under the age of 18 – soldiers on active duty or sailors at sea. There is no upper limit to making a Will but you must be of ‘sound mind’. The legal term is ‘sound testamentary capacity’, which means you understand the extent of your estate and that you are giving your assets to particular beneficiaries. You may feel that when you are making your Will, your mental capacity may be questioned. If you feel this may be the case a medical practitioner may be asked to confirm that you have capacity.

    Do I need a solicitor to write a Will?

    If you wish to make a Will yourself you can do so. Your Will does however need to comply with the Wills Act 1837 to be valid. Our specialist team have, over the years, dealt with disputes surrounding homemade Wills and those prepared by untrained and unregulated Will writers. Disputes can be time-consuming and costly to resolve and in some circumstances, disputes can only be resolved by the courts.

    What should I consider when making a Will?

    • Personal information: bring together all key and relevant personal information

     Your assets and possessions: What items of value do you own. This can include digital assets such as social media accounts Bring together a full list – you may wish to use our questionnaire to help with the process

    • Who will be your beneficiaries? You will need to consider who you wish to bequeath items to. You may wish to leave everything to one person but, thought must then be given to what happens to your estate should the main beneficiary die before you.

    Specific gifts: You may wish to leave personal items to certain people or organisations. Full details (names and addresses of all your beneficiaries will be needed)

    • Donations and Gifts to charities: These are normally exempt from Inheritance Tax.

    • Executors: You will need to consider and decide who to appoint as your Executors, who will deal with your affairs following your death. This is an important role so it is important to choose someone who is trustworthy and capable of the task. One or more people can be chosen. If you would prefer a professional to undertake the task or are struggling to think of someone who you know to take on the role, you may appoint a professional Executor. Osbornes accept executorship appointments.

    • Children: provisions will need to be made if you have children under the age of 18. These provisions include naming a Guardian to be responsible for your children and putting in place financial arrangements such as a Trust.

    • Other Wishes: Within your Will you will have the opportunity to detail any other wishes you may have. These may include particular wishes you have regarding your funeral.

    What happens if I don't make a Will?

    Making a Will is the only way that you can make sure your money, property, possessions and investments go to your family, friends, other people and causes you care about. Your property, possession and investments are known as your Estate.

    Will my common law spouse inherit my estate if I don't make a Will?

    The term common-law spouse comes up regularly, not just in this area of law but across the legal sector and in many areas of day-to-day life.

    The misconception is that unmarried couples by virtue of the duration of their relationship, or perhaps because they are cohabiting or have children together, acquire rights similar to those of married couples or those in a civil partnership. This is wrong and is a dangerous misunderstanding, particularly when one considers that the number of marriages has seen a steady decline over the decades and the number of cohabitants (or common-law spouses) has increased.

    I could write a whole article on the rights acquired on marriage that are not available to unmarried “common law spouses” but as I am a Private Client lawyer I will focus on a couple of points relevant to my area of law.

    Following marriage, any gift to your spouse or civil partner during your lifetime or on death is exempt from any charge to inheritance tax. If you are unmarried, no matter how long you have been together, the charge to inheritance tax on gifts between partners could be as much as 40%. So, whilst not the most romantic reason to get down on one knee, marriage can be a very sensible tax-saving device.

    If you are not married and your partner dies without a will, under the rules which apply to your partner’s assets you are not entitled to inherit anything. This could even apply to the death of a long-term partner and cohabitant of many years (even decades) – a distant blood relative could inherit the whole estate instead.

    If a couple owns an asset jointly it may pass automatically to the surviving partner, for example, a joint bank account or jointly owned home. However, you need to be very careful here as this is not always the case and depends on how the asset is held.

    If you are left empty-handed following the death of a partner you could make an application to court for provision from the estate. However, these applications are uncertain, potentially stressful and can be very costly and so should be a last resort.

    Marriage is of course not for everyone and if this is the case for you, the best way to avoid uncertainty on death is to have a professionally drafted will.

    Will my spouse will get everything if there is no will?

    When someone dies without a will this is known as dying intestate and the rules which determine who receives what in these circumstances are the intestacy rules.

    That the spouse gets everything is not entirely untrue. Since the intestacy rules changed in October 2014, where there are no children, on the death of the first spouse the surviving spouse will inherit everything. Also, even if there are children, if the estate passing under the intestacy rules has a value of less than £270,000 then the whole estate will pass to the surviving spouse.

    On the other hand, if the estate is worth more than £270,000, the surviving spouse would receive all of the personal possessions and the first £270,000 of the estate. The remaining estate would be split 50/50 between the surviving spouse and the children. Although, as mentioned above, not all assets pass according to the intestacy rules, some, such as joint bank accounts, can pass automatically to the surviving joint owner.

    Estate assets passing according to the intestacy rules can also be problematic when children are involved – for example, when there is a family estrangement or disagreements between a surviving spouse and children on what should happen to a certain asset. It is also worth noting that stepchildren do not benefit under the rules and so someone you have treated as your own child could be left without an inheritance. 

    It is important to understand how your estate would pass under the intestacy rules and how the rules might apply to your estate can be far from straightforward. However, the best way to ensure your wishes are followed and that your estate passes to those you want to benefit in a way that avoids conflict is get a professionally drafted will.

    What is the cost of making a Will?

    We offer a fixed rate charge of £650+VAT for the preparation of a straightforward Will. However, if the Estate and requirements are more complex, for example tax, or asset advice is needed, or there are assets abroad then an hourly rate will be charged. This will be discussed and confirmed with you during your discussions with your solicitor.

     

    Can I make a Will if I have dementia?

    Having dementia and Alzheimer’s does not automatically prevent you from making or renewing your will. Individuals with dementia can still protect themselves and their loved ones by making a will, so long as they have what the law calls ‘testamentary capacity’ – the mental capacity required to make a will.

    There is a long-standing legal test for determining whether someone has testamentary capacity, which states that the will-maker must:

    • Be able to understand the nature and impact of making a will.
    • Be able to understand the extent of what they own.
    • Be able to understand who could claim if they are not named in the will (e.g., a dependent child)
    • Have no disorder of the mind that poisons their affections perverts their sense of right, or prevents them from exercising their natural faculties when deciding how to dispose of their property under their will.

    Dementia is a ‘disorder of the mind’, but it does not automatically mean you lack the understanding and capacity to make a will (even if your memory is not what it once was). So, unless you or your loved one is in the advanced stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s, you could still have testamentary capacity.

    Why Choose Osbornes Law to help you write a Will?

    • Our specialist team comprises highly experienced solicitors. Osbornes Law is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and a number of our lawyers belong to the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP).
    • We have the ‘Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme’ kitemark, accredited by The Law Society.
    • Our Will writing services are affordable and our teams are highly efficient in drafting with very little fuss.
    • We can prepare wills specifically tailored to your circumstances and can advise on matters such as the ownership of companies, digital assets, literary and intellectual property estates, and foreign property. We can also take steps to avoid a potential dispute arising.

    Do I need a Wills Solicitor near me?

    Not necessarily, we advise clients throughout the UK and internationally regarding their wills. Call us to discuss your particular needs and situation and we match the right specialist solicitor to assist you and guide you through the process of making a will.

    We offer a fixed rate charge of £650+VAT for the preparation of a straightforward Will. However, if the Estate and requirements are more complex, for example, tax, or asset advice is needed, or there are assets abroad then an hourly rate will be charged. This will be discussed and confirmed with you during your discussions with your solicitor.

    Our Will questionnaire is available here to complete and return to willsonline@osborneslaw.com

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