Our will and LPA service are still available to you over Zoom, Skype and telephone. As restrictions have eased we are also offering face-to-face appointments at our office. Talk to us on 0113 320 5000 about making your will and LPA.
What is a will?
A will is a legal document that sets out your wishes regarding the following factors:
- Who you would like to benefit from your estate (your beneficiaries)
- Who will look after any minor children you may have (guardians)
- How your estate will be divided (if you want to leave it equally or unequally between a number of people and/or charities)
- Who will collect in and distribute your assets (executors)
What happens if I do not have a will?
If you die without making a will, your estate is ‘intestate’ and the law will determine who inherits your estate following the intestacy rules. Therefore, there is a risk that someone you do not want to benefit from your estate will benefit, whereas you could have disinherited them by having a will in place. The intestacy rules also result in unmarried partners not automatically benefiting from your estate. It is therefore advisable to have a will in place to make it clear to your loved ones who you would like to benefit from your estate.
What is a mirror will?
Mirror wills are two separate legal documents; therefore each partner/spouse is (so long as they have capacity) able to update, amend or revoke their will at any point in time without an obligation to inform their partner/spouse.
What is a mutual will?
Mutual wills are made by people who agree that they will not amend or revoke (cancel) their wills without notifying the other party and thereby giving them the opportunity of amending their will. Having a mutual will also means that when the first person passes away, the surviving person cannot make a new will.
When should I update my will?
You should consider reviewing your will to see if it needs to be updated when:
- You have a change in personal circumstances, for example:
- someone named in your will dies
- birth of a child/grandchild
- family disagreements
- You have a change in financial circumstances, for example:
- Your finances increase/decrease
- You bought/sold a property
- There are a change in the needs or circumstances of the beneficiaries
How do I update my will?
There are two ways to update your will:
- Have a codicil written and executed (signed, dated and witnessed)
- Have a new will written and executed (signed, dated and witnessed)
What is a codicil?
A codicil is a legal document that amends a will.
What is a letter of wishes?
A letter of wishes is a document you can write yourself and store with your original will. You may choose to write a letter of wishes to give guidance to your loved ones without the guidance being legally binding. Many people hold off finalising a will until it is too late, either due to an unexpected death, illness or disability. Having an up-to-date valid will in place will give you peace of mind that if something unfortunate were to happen in the future then your wishes are contained in a legally binding document.
Power of Attorney
At the same time as writing a will we recommend our clients consider making Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). Under a Financial LPA you can nominate the individual or people whom you would like to look after your financial affairs if you become incapable of doing so, whether through mental or physical infirmity. Under a Welfare LPA you are able to appoint an attorney to look after your welfare interests should you become mentally incapable of doing so yourself. This is a new and important development, in effect enabling you to make a 'living will'.
If you do not have a Financial LPA your family may need to apply to court for the right to look after your financial affairs, which can be expensive and time-consuming. Without a Welfare LPA, if you do need care in a hospital or home your wishes may not be properly taken into account.
Yes. It is perfectly normal and perfectly legal to name the same person or people as both an executor and a beneficiary in your will.
Yes, if you are aged over 18 and have assets. This is because a will is the only way you can make sure that your wishes will be carried out after your death.
You only need to change your will if you change address if you have made a specific gift of that property in your will.
Yes. Entering into a marriage or civil partnership automatically revokes your will unless it was made in specifically in contemplation of marriage and states that it is not to be revoked by the marriage.
Winston Solicitors do not charge for storing your will. We cannot say what the position is with all solicitors.
Yes, this is possible. If the property is jointly owned by you and your spouse, it is essential that the property is held as tenants in common rather than joint tenants. It is possible that if you leave your spouse a life interest in your half of the property and your spouse subsequently goes into a care home that only half the value of the house would be taken into consideration by the local authority when carrying out an assessment. It is essential that the life interest trust is properly worded in the will and you should ensure, for it to be done properly, that you consult a specialist solicitor.
No. If you would like to update us of a change by letter, please do so.
If you are not married or in a civil partnership and you do not make a will then the answer is no. However, property held with your partner in joint names as joint tenants will pass automatically to them on your death.
I consider that it is wise to review your will if there is any change in your circumstances or those of the beneficiaries referred to in the will. In addition, if there are changes in inheritance tax, it may be appropriate to review your will.
If you do not make a will then the intestacy rules apply on your death. This can mean that those who you wish to benefit from your estate could lose out and it could cause considerable hardship to your family.
A will is an important legal document which governs the distribution of your estate (which is everything that you own) upon your death. If you die without making a will, you are ‘intestate’ and the law will determine who inherits your estate. It is important to seek professional legal advice when writing a will to ensure it complies with all legal requirements and can be executed with ease.
Many people believe that everything they own will automatically go to their spouse, but unfortunately this is not always the case. A properly drafted will sets out your wishes clearly and unambiguously.
It can also deal with other matters, such as appointing guardians for any children under the age of 18. For clients with more valuable estates, having the correct will in place could save many thousands of pounds of inheritance tax.