Why write a Will?
Writing your Will is the first step in ensuring that things are kept as simple as possible for those you leave behind.
No matter what stage of life applies to you, writing and regularly updating a Will is one of the most important pieces of administration you should carry out.
Dying without having made a Will or ‘intestate’ can cause many problems, from assets being caught up in probate for very long periods to those same assets ending up in the hands of people you had no intention of benefitting.
For example; a married couple with young children where one spouse dies intestate.:
As things stand the surviving spouse would receive the first £270,000 of the deceased’s estate (excluding joint assets) with the remainder being split equally between the children and survivor. Were the deceased’s estate value, passed to the children, to exceed any available nil rate band then inheritance tax at 40% could apply on the excess.
Having made the decision to make a Will, possibly for the first time, there are a few points to consider.
Using a professional Will writer such as Kept Assets is certainly the right thing to do. We will take your instructions and translate them into a document which accurately reflects your wishes.
We ensure that the Will can be easily understood by your executors, your family and the probate court. This avoids delay and possible hardship to your loved ones.
Before you start please consider the following:
Who will be your executor(s)?
Please consider who will be the most appropriate person to act for you. Perhaps their knowledge of your family or their level of understanding of your affairs should be considered. Please remember to ask them if they will act, a refusal should not be considered an insult, some people simply would prefer not to have the responsibility.
What do you own and how?
Please consider and collate documentary evidence of your whole estate and the estimated value of the major assets such as your house, major investments, life insurance policies, pension funds and valuables. Some of these might be held with a spouse or be subject to an existing trust.
Who gets what?
It might seem obvious but without clarity, your intended beneficiaries might not get the things you intend. What if they go before you?
Burial or Cremation?
Please don’t rely solely on your Will to tell those that remain what you wish. It is often the case that the Will is read after the service. It is a good idea to tell your family occasionally “when I go I would like to be………”
Make a list
Make sure your executors or family know where the Will is kept and how they can gain access to it. You might also consider listing important items such as secure password storage for bank accounts, utilities, insurance documents etc. to accompany your Will.
Kept Assets can provide a secure storage facility for your Will and supporting documents for a small fixed annual fee.
Think about who will witness your documents, they cannot be family members or beneficiaries of the Will and must be over 18 and have mental capacity. Members of staff here at either Kept Assets or Dawn Slater can of course act as witnesses should you require.
Once we have recorded and collated your wishes, we will produce a draft Will document for approval or amendment. On final approval we will produce a full printed Will for signature, witness and registration.
Many couples own their assets such as the family home or bank accounts ‘jointly’ which means that on first death, these pass into the sole ownership of the survivor. For many couples considering their Wills, this structure can work well especially if the value falls below current inheritance tax thresholds and where there are no concerns about losing value to third parties such as the local authority or a new spouse.
The intent is often that once the surviving spouse has passed, some residual value will go to any children of the first marriage but, if re-marriage has occurred, the original Will becomes void and it is possible that all assets could pass outside of the original family.
The use of mirror wills in estate planning, whereby each party in a marriage or civil partnership leaves their share of the estate to their spouse or partner with an identical reciprocation from the other, has been common practice for many years. Such planning can begin to fail where the overall estate value, on second death, exceeds the joint allowances for inheritance tax therefore triggering a charge (which is payable prior to probate being granted).
Recently, Will writers have added a simple trust to their proposal in-order to create a ‘life interest’ for a surviving spouse. The life interest trust is created to allow the surviving spouse to enjoy the value of their departed’s assets without them becoming part of their own estate. The assets held within the life interest trust would ordinarily pass to the children or other intended recipients on second death without the worry of third party influence.
Such planning relies on the splitting of ownership of the family home into ‘tenants in common’ and selected other assets being held in sole name rather than jointly.