10 Apr

A Will is an important legal document which enables the person making the Will (otherwise known as the testator), to specify how they would like their belongings to be distributed on their death. A Will enables the testator to do the following:-

  • Appoint executors to handle their estate and distribute assets on their death
  • Appoint guardians to look after minor children (children under the age of 18)
  • Make money gifts to family members, friends or even charities
  • Specify for certain items to be gifted to a beneficiary, i.e. a family heirloom or even a piece of jewellery – we have even seen someone gift their alcohol collection
  • Specify funeral arrangements
  • Gift properties
  • Exclude people from benefiting under their Will, i.e. estranged children
  • Make provisions for pets
  • Include various trusts
  • Specify how their estate should be distributed and who to
  • It can also be very beneficial for IHT planning.

If you die without making a Will, this means that you will be deemed to have died intestate and the rules of intestacy will govern who will receive your estate on your death. This may not be the most tax-efficient way and could benefit those you may not have wanted to benefit under the Will. Overly simple Wills or people without one have been known to give away hundreds of thousands in unnecessary inheritance tax and legal fees.

Take, for example, a couple who are currently going through a divorce. Until the divorce is finalised and a decree absolute is issued, if Mr dies without having made a Will excluding his current wife from benefiting from his estate, under the laws of intestacy, if his estate is worth £322,000, she will receive all of his estate. This would not have been the case if he had put a Will in place. 

Another real example is when a couple had been in a relationship for 30 years. They were not married but were living together, and then Miss died. Her intention was for all to pass to her partner, and she assumed that since they had been together for so long, they fell in the same category as married couples or those in a civil partnership. Unfortunately, this was not the case, as there is no provision for unmarried couples to benefit under the laws of intestacy. They had no children, and Miss had no parents, so all of her estate went to her only sister. 

So, who can write a Will?

There are different options available to you when it comes to making a Will:-

  • See a professional; or
  • Write a Will yourself

Although you could write a Will by purchasing a DIY kit from high-street retailers, you would not obtain the expert advice needed to address more specific personal circumstances; therefore, your Will would not be tailored as required. 

The best option is to have a professional write your Will for you. Be careful, though, as anyone can claim to be a Will Writer. Make sure to choose someone trained in succession law and insured for their work, and are members of The Society Of Wills Writers (SWW) as Fern Wills & Trusts are. 

By using Fern Wills & Trusts, you are safe in the knowledge that the person attending to you will know and understand your needs and have the necessary expertise to advise you appropriately on how your Will should look and work, especially if your estate is complex.

All SWW members must keep their knowledge current through training and CPD and carry a minimum of £2 million Professional Indemnity Insurance. Only those who do are permitted to be members and will be issued a certificate of compliance and ID cards.

Do I need to review my Will?

It is best to review your will every 3-5 years or, at the very least when your circumstances change, e.g., marriage or the birth of children. If you wish to make amendments to your Will, have a new Will written, or have any supporting documentation, contact us to put these changes in place. Remember, if you have a new Will written, it will revoke any previous Wills.

How do I put it in motion?

See our "Working With You page" or "Contact Us." This process is usually completed within 28 days. Of course, if there is a level of urgency due to personal circumstances, please let us know.

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