Professional Will Writing
& Lasting Powers of Attorney

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Will Writing

What is a will?

A Will is a legal document which sets out how you wish your estate to be dealt with after your death. For a Will to be valid it must be in writing and comply with certain formalities. A Will states who you have appointed to deal with your estate, as well as who you wish to benefit. A Will can also include your funeral wishes and who you have appointed as guardian(s) of your minor children.

Do I need a will?

If you care about what will happen to your estate after you die then you need a Will.

Whatever your age, if you've assets eg, a house, savings, or a business, and people or others you'd like to look after, then you need a will.

It is a common misconception that if you are married, your spouse will automatically inherit all of your estate. This is not necessarily true. If you do not have a Will, the law will decide what happens to your estate and it can be drastically different from your wishes.

Making a Will is important whether you have children or not. It ensures that those whom you wish to benefit are provided for financially, and if you do have children it allows you to appoint guardians to those who are under the age of 18.

Making a Will does not attract the inevitable; it merely ensures that you have your affairs in order and avoids loved ones having to face unnecessary legal and financial difficulties at a time of bereavement.

What happens if I die without a Will?

If you die without a Will, your estate will not necessarily pass to those you wish to benefit after your death. When you die with no Will you are said to die intestate. When this happens under English law, there are specific rules that set out who can administer your estate and what will happen to your property. This may be vastly different to your wishes!

For example, regardless of what your wishes may be, your estate will not necessarily pass to your partner or spouse when you die. While the surviving spouse or registered civil partner will usually benefit over anyone else they may not receive all of your estate depending on whether or not you have children.

In this case your spouse may not receive your entire estate, some of which may go to other relatives. Your spouse may not even receive enough to maintain their current lifestyle.

An unmarried partner is entitled to nothing even if you have been cohabiting prior to death.

 It’s really important to have a Will if you are single because without one, your assets and possessions will be distributed in line with what the law says, rather than with what you want. The Rules of Intestacy will pass your property to your next of kin who may well not be who you would have chosen to inherit.

The Rules of Intestacy do not make provisions for unmarried partners, step-children, friends, pets and charities and therefore a will is the only means of clearly stating your wishes.

With no Will in place there may also be a need to set up statutory trusts of intestacy, which is very complicated and expensive.

The importance of keeping a Will up to date

You may have already written a Will; perhaps when you bought your first house or when your children were young. 

However, as a lot may have changed since this Will was written, it may not properly reflect your wishes now. For example, you may now have grandchildren or some of the people mentioned in it may have since passed away or you may now have many more assets.

It’s advisable to review your Will every couple of years and certainly after every significant life change, so it still reflects your wishes.  Life events such as marriage or divorce mean that parts of your existing Will (or even all of it) will automatically become invalid making a re-write necessary.