Making a Will
At Langham Wills’ we provide our clients with a personal Will and Estate Planning Service. This covers professional guidance over making a Will, creating a Lasting Power of Attorney and Estate Planning.
The process couldn’t be easier, our professional will discuss how you would like to distribute your estate and guide you through the legal jargon so that you understand how your Will would work. The consultation can also include complex areas, such as the use of trusts, inheritance tax problems and how best to secure your assets.
Do I really need a will ?
When someone dies without a Will they die ‘Intestate’ the rules of intestacy will apply. This means your estate will be distributed according to the law, fees tend to be higher and your family can be put at risk of not receiving their inheritance - that’s a lot of extra strain on those left behind.
Also it is often overlooked that when a person either gets married or divorced, any Will that they had made prior to that event will no longer be valid and they would be deemed to have died intestate, that is unless the Will clearly states that it would not affect any entitlement. (The law is different in Scotland).
Sadly, many Wills fail due to the legal aspects being ‘assumed’ and in a BBC report, John Smithers from The Law Society pointed out “There is no way of checking it has been done correctly if written by an individual on their own", he warns.
"There are other low-cost alternatives. Templates are available online and from stationery stores", but Mr Smithers warns that these, too, do not have any cross-checking from a professional.
Employing the services of a professional not only gives peace of mind that you have created a legal and binding document but also that it is done correctly and in accordance with your wishes.
Common misconception: My spouse will inherit everything
There are limits to the amount your spouse is legally entitled to under the rules of Intestacy and this can cause unnecessary hardship for your partner.
Taking professional advice can ensure that your spouse and family are catered for as per your wishes.
Common misconception: My partner is my beneficiary.
As an unmarried couple, without a Will your partner is at risk.
Beneficiaries are relatives such as children, parents, brothers and sisters etc.
So if you add in the complication of property owned with your partner and life insurance not in trust this would make the distribution of your assets very difficult under the rules of Intestacy.
It is imperative that unmarried couples take professional advice to ensure their estates are distributed as their wishes.
Common misconception: God Parents will look after the children if I/we die.
If you have minor children under the age of 18, then in the event of your death the parental responsibility dies with you. The only way to ensure the children are cared for is to pass on the parental responsibility via a Will. God Parents do not count.
There is a risk that the children could potentially end up as a ward of court until the courts have decided who is best placed to care for them. This decision is taken away from family members and it may be the people caring for your children are not who you would have preferred.
Fact: The way the property is owned has an impact on inheritance.
There are two methods of property ownership, joint tenants and tenants in common. Dependant on which way you own your property can determine how it is distributed on death.
As part of our service we will always check property ownership to ensure that your property is distributed in accordance with your wishes.
In most cases our home is the single most valuable asset we own. Therefore, it is important to ensure your property is inherited as per your wishes and who you will allow to live in your property after you have passed away.
CHILDREN FROM PREVIOUS RELATIONSHIPS
Common misconception: My assets will pass on to my children
If you are now married, children from a previous relationship may inherit nothing.
If you are in a relationship but not married, your current partner may not inherit.
We ensure that when discussing step-children, provision is made for ongoing distribution and to safeguard their potential inheritance. We refer to this as bloodline planning.
A Will gives you the power to clearly set out how you would like your estate to be divided.
RUN YOUR OWN BUSINESS
Common misconception: My accountant can deal with this
Often, a business can be a valuable part of your estate. With this comes legal obligations.
Ensuring your business is included in your Will can avoid unnecessary potential inheritance tax and can ensure the business can continue trading in the interim until the estate has been finalised.
It is important that business owners get guidance from a firm that understands the complexities of business ownership and also the Inheritance tax rules to ensure no unnecessary tax paid on an estate.
RETIRED & DEBT FREE
Common misconception: I will give my assets away. This is known as deliberate deprivation.
Often, when people are retired they want to ensure that all their affairs are in order and safeguard against the risk of potential care fees.
Often the use of Trusts included in a Will can protect some of your assets against the risk of potential care costs thus ensuring more of your assets can pass to your children or grandchildren.
Advance planning is needed and seeking specialist advice in this area is important because once a person needs care it may be too late to then consider asset protection.