Making a Will is such a simple and straightforward process that you would imagine everyone over the age of 18 would do it. Unfortunately, around two thirds of people in the UK don’t have a Will and many will leave this quick, simple process too late.
Those who do make a Will often make the mistake of choosing the age-old favourite, the ‘Mirror Will’. Sadly, this common type of Will leaves their full assets exposed to care fees, creditors and predatory third parties; and makes it very easy for their hard-earned cash to pass sideways out of the family. With a Mirror Will, the money that you worked so hard for your whole life can very easily end up in the pockets of the taxman, a Local Authority, a child’s ex-partner, or someone else’s children or grandchildren.
Quite often when we tell clients there is a simple solution to all of this, they assume we are talking about dubious ‘Asset Protection Trusts’. In fact, we would never recommend such an arrangement – instead, there are simple, legitimate ways to structure your assets so that your share of the family wealth is preserved on your death.
April King Legal offers:
- A free information pack about Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney.
- A free one-hour appointment to discuss your Will, without obligation.
- Home visits at no extra charge.
- Individual bespoke advice based on your personal circumstances and goals.
- Smart ways to protect what you’ve worked so hard for, to ensure it goes to your children or grandchildren.
- A regulated lawyer-managed process.
If, after you’ve met our advisor, you’re not convinced that our advice is right for you, simply walk away. There’s no obligation whatsoever to proceed.
“A Mirror Will leaves your full assets exposed to care fees, creditors and predatory third parties; and makes it very easy for your hard-earned cash to pass sideways out of the family. With a Mirror Will, the money that you worked so hard for your whole life can very easily end up in the pockets of the taxman, a Local Authority, a child’s ex-partner, or someone else’s children or grandchildren.”
Reasons for making a Will
There are many good reasons to make a Will and keep it updated, in contrast with your estate being distributed on ‘intestacy’ rules. For example:
You can appoint guardians for your minor children rather than leave who will care for them to chance. Find out more about appointing a guardian.
You can set out your funeral wishes. Even if you really have no preference, this can remove a lot of stress for loved ones who otherwise have to second-guess what you might have wanted on your death.
You can protect some of your assets by leaving them in trust. For example, you might grant a life interest to your spouse in your share of the family home with the remainder to your children. If your spouse remarries after your death, there is no risk that your share will pass sideways out of the family. Trusts can similarly help protect assets left to grown up children who may go through divorce or financial difficulties. Find out more about trusts for minor children and grandchildren.
You can leave pets much like you leave personal property, together with a gift of money contingent on the beneficiary accepting responsibility for the pet. Find out more about leaving a legacy for a pet.
You can specify what happens to your assets and ensure sentimental items are left with those who would appreciate them. By contrast, without a Will, your estate will pass according to intestacy. For example, the first £270,000 of your estate will pass to your spouse or civil partner (if you have one) with the remainder split 50/50 between your spouse and your children (if you have them). Even if this seems acceptable now, it may not be sufficient at the time of your death and does not protect your share if your partner needs care in the future, falls into financial difficulty or remarries.
Provide for cohabitees, who currently do not benefit under the rules of intestacy (i.e. the rules about distributing your estate if you did not make a Will) even if they have children with you. Find out more about legal issues cohabitees should consider.
If you wish, you can include a formula that specifies a certain proportion of your estate goes to charity, so that your estate benefits from a reduced rate of inheritance tax. Find out more about how gifting to charity affects Inheritance Tax.
Making a Will allows you to select Executors of your choice who will manage your estate when you die. If you don’t make a Will, the person or persons who will manage your estate will be those set out by the law. You can find out more in our guide to Letters of Administration. Clearly it is preferable to choose the people you trust to properly administer your assets, rather than leaving this to chance.
A Will is a sort of message to your loved ones after you die. It’s an opportunity to show them that you care by thinking of them and providing for them. Failure to make a Will sends the opposite message!
Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be extremely stressful. What were their wishes regarding a funeral? What did they want to happen to their personal possessions? How did they want their assets to be split? If all these things are unknown, the stress is increased at an already very difficult time. A Will provides clear answers for those left behind and a clear message that you cared enough to put your affairs in order.
Making a Will can help prevent discord in the family. It is a clear statement of your wishes so that nobody is in any doubt as to where you want your assets to go. In addition, if you decide to leave assets in an unexpected way (for example, a smaller share to some children than others) we can help reduce the risk of a claim being made through various means.
Q: What if the person who needs a Will has lost capacity?
A: A Statutory Will may be possible – find out more about Statutory Wills here.
Making a Will : who should you choose to help?
Anyone can offer Will writing services – it is not a ‘reserved’ activity. Consequently there are an abundance of ‘Will Writing companies’ and our own research has shown that they rarely use regulated lawyers.
In addition, there are many online services offering cheap Wills but these are no replacement for spending time with a regulated Wills specialist. We have not seen a single online Wills service that offers anything besides a simple or Mirror Will, neither of which will be suitable for the vast majority of people.
Lawyers who are regulated by STEP, the SRA, CILEX or the BSB are fully accountable to a professional body with a comprehensive Code of Conduct and in the unlikely event things don’t go to plan, you can complain to the Regulator or the Legal Ombudsman.
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