Have you got a Will? Here’s why you need one.
Do you have a Will? If not then you’re not alone – research shows that more than half of UK adults have not written a Will. Most of us know that it’s a really important thing to do, but it’s not always clear why. We spoke to Marcos Kallou of Prior Knowledge, a professional Will-writing company covering Herts and Essex, to find out why you need a Will and what could happen if you don’t make one.
1. Do I really need a Will? I thought everything would go to my partner/children?
Anyone with property, or assets and/or children should make a Will. If you do not, then the law will determine where everything goes. In some cases this MAY go to your spouse or civil partner and/or children, but not necessarily. If you are not married or in a civil partnership, then a partner does not automatically become entitled to anything.
Also, unmarried couples also have other considerations to be aware of. If you have children from previous relationships, then most clients want to ensure that those children inherit. If it passes to a spouse or partner, then he or she may leave it all to their own children, meaning the intended children get excluded altogether. Also, if you die and leave it all to a spouse, if they then remarry it can then all end up going to the new spouse and their children. Also, if the spouse goes into long term care and everything is in their name, the whole lot becomes vulnerable for care fees.
Another consideration is you may not necessarily want children to inherit: what if they are disabled, or have addictions or might get divorced? Such circumstances can cause many headaches. And finally, if the children are minors, then a Will needs to be made in order that appropriate guardians can be appointed to look after them.
2. Do I have to use a solicitor or can I do it myself?
You can indeed do Wills yourself, but there is an inherent risk in doing so. The physical document is only the final outcome. What about the advice? Who can you ask? And Wills are legal documents so they need to be written correctly. DIY Wills are clearly the most risky Wills to do. It’s like anything – if you really don’t know what you are doing, you can get it horribly wrong. And with a Will, you may not find out until it’s too late.
3. How much does it cost to write a Will?
Wills are not a homogenous item like a tin of beans. The price varies depending on the circumstances; the requirements; the complexity; what is needed. The answer is a bit like asking, ‘how much is a car?’ At Prior Knowledge we always offer a free, non-obligatory first consultation. In this way we can look at the client’s circumstances, look at the options and make recommendations. And before the client decides to proceed, we quote a fixed fee, so they know, to the penny, what it will cost before they proceed.
4. What do I need to include in my Will?
Wills should include such things as the executors/trustees, Guardians if there are children under 18, any specific gifts or legacies, as well as any Trusts which might be needed. Trusts are very popular and common and must be written correctly. There will also need to be an appropriate ‘attestation clause’.
5. What if my circumstances change in the future?
Wills can be updated as you go along. If your circumstances change in a big way (eg.marriage, death, divorce and so on) then a Will should be re-written to take into account the new situation.
6. Who should I choose as executors of my Will?
This can sometimes be a moot point. In reality you can choose anyone you want to, but this is where the advice comes in. Beneficiaries can be executors. Lay people can also be executors, as can a professional firm. But there are pros and cons to each. At Prior Knowledge, we work with our clients to discuss the options and select the right executors. It is a huge responsibility acting as an executor/trustee so it needs to be considered carefully.
7. Where should I store my Will?
Anywhere you like, is the short answer. Ultimately the original Will needs to be found quickly, when its needed. Wills do have a habit of going missing and if it cannot be found it can cause real problems. If someone finds it and doesn’t like the contents then it is not unknown for that person to destroy it if it works in their favour. In Jane Austin’s Sanditon, currently airing on ITV, there was a scene where the Will was discovered, and burnt so that it worked in someone’s favour. So wherever it is kept, it needs to be safe and secure yet easily retrievable. Some clients keep them at home, in a safe deposit box, whilst most elect to use a safe depository that Prior Knowledge recommends, that costs a few pence a day.
If you need advice on on Will writing or estate planning matters, Marcos is qualified to the highest level by the Institute of Professional Will-writers. Contact Prior Knowledge for your free consultation.