Wills

Making sure you have an up to date and appropriate Will is essential. If you don’t have a Will in place when you pass away this is called dying intestate. In England and Wales this means that your assets will be distributed, not in line with your wishes, but by the ‘rules of intestacy’. I’m sure many of you will have caught the popular daytime TV programme called ‘Heir Hunters’ where an agency sets about trying to track down the distant relatives of people who have died without a Will to tell them they have an inheritance (for a commission). This programme gives us a good insight into how random the provisions of the intestacy rules can be.

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The most important thing is to make sure you have a valid will in place. So this could be put together using a Will Kit, it could be an online Will, or one drafted by a Will Writing Service or a Solicitor. The advantage of a professionally drafted Will is that it avoids the possibility of ambiguous wording. So for example ‘I leave my grandchildren £1000’ could be interpreted as either £1000 each, or split between them. If you draft your own will its very easy to inadvertently use language that can be interpreted in different ways. Or maybe creates legal obligations, such as the establishment of trusts, without intending to do so.

For these reasons we believe its important to get professional help in drafting a will.

There are internet based will options or off the shelf will kits. The resulting wills may be perfectly valid and match your needs but should such an important document be drafted without advice?

A Will can be a very simple document. They could easy be condensed on to two sheets of A4 Paper. The reason that they often have more clauses is to cover eventualities that you might not have considered. Often these are things we don’t want to consider as a possibility.

For example:

What would you want to happen if one of your children pre-decease you?

What would you want to happen if you all died in a car crash?

Although these questions aren’t nice to think about a well drafted will is designed to look at a range of possibilities and make provision for them.

Many of the clauses of a Will give powers to your executors to carry out your wishes without any difficulty.

For these reasons our Wills are kept as simple but we make sure its as ‘future proof’ as reasonably possible. If your circumstances change dramatically then a redrafting may be required anyway.

There sometimes confusion as to what the term ‘Mirror Wills’ refers to. It is common for a couple to make a Will each at the same time. More often than not these Wills are identical in most respects except certain clauses are reversed so that you make each other the main beneficiary.

They are each a mirror version of the other will - hence the term ‘Mirror Wills’

There are other will arrangements such as mutual wills which are not regarded as good estate planning practice.

You may think that getting divorced means that your Will becomes revoked. In fact this isn’t the case. Your divorced partner is treated as having pre-deceased you and therefore isn’t entitled to a bequest. However, the rest of the will stands and this can create strange anomalies. If you have the unfortunate experience of going through a Divorce our advice would be to create a new will to reflect the new situation.

Marriage does normally revoke any Will previously entered into for both parties. The exception is where you know you are about to marry and have inserted a clause that covers this. If however you marry after drafting a Will without this clause and fail to make a new Will you would die ‘intestate’ The consequences of this can be dramatic and lead to any children from a previous marriage being disinherited. There is more on this in section of this site on Protecting your Assets.

A Codicil is an amendment to a previously written Will. These are perfectly legal as long as all the normal requirements for a legal Will are followed. The most important of these is making sure that the codicil is signed and witnessed by two independent people. ie hand written notes signed just by yourself would not be valid.

We think that adding codicils is inadvisable and that a new replacement Will should be drafted to avoid uncertainty.

Being the Executor of a Will is a responsible role and making the right choice is an important decision. It can take many months and lots of toil for the probate process to be completed.

The main criteria for selecting an executor should be.

1. Someone who is capable and can cope with paperwork and administration
2. Someone who is able to carry out the role from a practical perspective both in terms of their geographic location and time commitments
3. Most importantly someone you trust.
4. Someone who is willing to undertake the role

There is nothing to stop you appointing a beneficiary as an executor. You can appoint more than one Executor to work together or establish replacement Executors

Secure storage of your Will is often an overlooked aspect of Estate Planning. Only the original signed document is the legally binding version. If this goes missing for any reason then the whole process of writing the Will has been a waste of time.

You might think that storage at home is the best option. However your Will could be stored for many years during which time lots of things could happen.

1. You might move home
2. You might suffer Dementia
3. The house could destroyed in a fire
4. You might simply lose it
5. Once you’ve gone the Will could be maliciously removed by a relative who doesn’t like its provisions.
6. It might not get found.

Every year thousands of legally written Wills cannot be found and so to avoid this we suggest a professional storage solution.
If you want us to organise storage for you then for a small annual fee we can store the document at the National Will Safe.

The service includes:

1. Wills store in waterproof wallets
2. Wills stored in a specialist document archive
3. Wills fully insured
4. Wills returned to you or GSA Wills free of charge at any time
5. Wills returned to your Executors when needed – free of charge
6. Location of Wills recorded on the National Wills Register

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Telephone: 0121 605 3041 / 07837 513863 

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