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Wills, Trusts and Probate

Writing a Will ensures that your wishes are executed after you are no longer here. Dying without a Will is known as ‘dying intestate’ and the law of England and Wales determines who will inherit your estate, which may not be those that you would have wished. Without a Will it could take longer for your beneficiaries to inherit.

For example, if one person owns the property in which both of you live or you both own it as tenants in common, if one of you dies without a Will, the other will not automatically inherit their share of the house unless stated in a Will. In fact, the property could go to other family members, for example, children (from whom the deceased may be estranged), minor children, parents, or brothers and sisters.  Families that include stepchildren could also suffer without a Will in place.

If you are living together and are not married and one of you passes away, there is nothing in law to say that you automatically inherit the estate of your partner.  Whilst you acquire rights after living together for a period of time, you will still have to make a claim on the estate for a share of the assets which takes time, costs significant amounts of money and causes a great deal of emotional stress at a time when you least need it.

If you have a child or children under 18, you must ensure that guardians are named in your Will so that persons of your choosing are appointed to take care of them when you cannot do so. Without a Will you will have no say as to whom the Court may appoint to look after your children, where and with whom they may live.

If you have a child or children, whether under or over 18 with learning difficulties, special needs or disabilities, you may need to consider including a special tax efficient trust in the Will so that persons of your choosing can provide for your child’s needs throughout their lifetime. Without a Will the child/children will inherit absolutely at 18 which may not be appropriate if they are vulnerable or on benefits.

It’s been reported that around 60% of people in the UK don’t have a Will – that’s around 31 million people. Whilst those aged over 55 are more likely to have a Will in place than their younger counterparts, around 37% of adults over 55 don’t have one.

Reasons cited for not having a Will include; planning to make one later in life, not thinking they have an estate/assets that make it worthwhile, only have debts, putting it off due to the cost, and not knowing how to go about writing one.

It is important to regularly review your Will, and we recommend you review your affairs every three to five years or when your circumstances change. Examples of when you need to update or write a new Will include: getting married, getting separated or divorced, having a child, moving to a new house, if the executor/beneficiary named in the Will dies, or receiving a large inheritance/windfall.

Wills need to be formally witnessed in order to make them legally valid. It is important to note that the witness or their spouse/civil partner cannot benefit from your Will. If we prepare your Will, as part of the service we can act as your witnesses to ensure the document is valid.

We are happy to store your Will at the office which gives you peace of mind to know that your executors can just make one call to us when the time comes. This ensures that the Will does not get lost or destroyed.

At stevensdrake, our team can provide you with the Will that meet all of your requirements – whether it is straightforward or more complex containing trusts. As everyone’s circumstances and priorities are unique to them, we will provide you a bespoke service.

Find out more about how we can assist you by visiting our Wills, Trusts, and Probate section.

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