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family law specialists

Professional Will Writing

Nobody likes to think about their own demise and for this reason many people do not make arrangements for how their property and possessions are to be dealt with when they die. Many people intend to make a will, but simply do not get round to doing it. Others have a will but do not review it when their circumstances change, for example, on separation or divorce. All of these scenarios can produce an outcome which that person did not intend.

The answer is to make a will. Making a will is a simple and quick process which allows you to set out clearly how you want your estate to be divided, who you want to deal with it and any other wishes you want to survive beyond your lifetime. Amongst other things, a will allows you to:

  • Leave individual items, e.g. jewellery or items of sentimental value, to a specific person
  • Appoint guardians to care for your children
  • Provide for an unmarried partner (not automatically recognised by the law in the same way as a spouse or civil partner)
  • Deal with your assets in a tax efficient way
  • Make a gift to charity
  • Avoid claims being made against your estate by those dependent on you financially, e.g. an ex-spouse

Although it is possible to make a will without the help of a solicitor, it is generally not advisable as there are various legal formalities you need to follow to make sure your will is valid. Without the help of an expert with up to date legal training and experience, there is a real risk you could make a mistake, causing problems for your family and friends after your death. Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority and are required to keep up to date with any changes in the law and to carry indemnity insurance to protect their clients’ interests.

Types of Will

Single Will

This type of Will is a document created by an individual and sets out some fairly simple wishes about what happens on their death. Typically it will set out:

  • Appointment of Executors
  • Noting any specific gifts
  • Nominating a beneficiary who will receive the remainder of the Estate after all other beneficiaries have received their inheritance and all debts have been paid
  • Nominating guardians for any children
  • Specifying any charitable gifts
  • Outlining your desired funeral arrangements

Mirror Wills

Mirror wills are suitable for a couple who have the same or very similar wishes upon their death. The documents will contain essentially the same information as a single will but typically structured so that each will specifies that the estate will be left to the spouse and then alternative beneficiaries upon the death of the surviving spouse.

As the content of each document tends to “mirror” the content of the other, this option is typically more cost effective than having individual wills as well as giving more control over the wishes of both parties.

Your Property

If you own your property in joint names with another person, you can create a trust for the survivor to retain a right to live in the house for the remainder of their life.  This may be beneficial if the survivor needs to pay for care at a later stage, as the Local Authority can only assess the value of the survivor’s share of the property.  The share that is held in trust is not included and as such, it is protected from care home costs.

In order for the trust to be effective, you must hold your property as Tenants in Common so that your interest can be passed by means of your Will.  Many couples own their property as Joint Tenants so that the interest can automatically pass to the survivor.  If you are not sure how your property is held, we can carry out an online search at the Land Registry for you. If your property is held as Joint Tenants, but you wish to include a lifetime trust in your Wills, we can apply to sever your tenancy at the Land Registry.  The Land Registry will amend the Registers of Title relating to your property so that you are listed as Tenants in Common instead.

Our costs list for our Will writing services are laid out on the fee page – here