FAQs About Wills and Succession Planning

Discover answers to the most frequently asked questions surrounding Wills and Succession Planning

What is a Will?

A Will is a legally binding document which sets out your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and assets when you die, as well as the care of your minor children.

What do I need to know for my first Will appointment?

Prior to your first Will appointment you should give some thought to matters that you would want included in your Will such as funeral wishes; who is going to sort out your estate and carry out your wishes (the Executors); your intended Beneficiaries (including full names and addresses); any specific legacies you wish to make. However, this information can be obtained subsequent to the initial appointment as we understand it is sometimes easier to provide this information after our first meeting.

What happens if I die without a Will?

In situations where a person dies without a Will, that person is considered to have died ‘Intestate’ which means the ‘Intestacy Rules’then take effect.

The Intestacy Rules are a statutory order as to who will benefit from your estate if you hav not made such provision yourself by way of a Will. Following this statutory order, if you do not have any children then your spouse will inherit your estate entirely. If you do not have a spouse but you have children, then your children will inherit.

If you have both a spouse and children, your spouse will not inherit the entirety of your estate. In this situation your spouse will inherit the first £250,000 of your estate and all personal possessions.The rest will be shared as to one half for your spouse and one half equally between the children. There are other categories of beneficiaries depending on your family circumstance with ultimately the crown being the beneficiary.

The only way in which you can therefore ensure that your wishes are carried out is by having a Will.

Will my Partner inherit my Estate?

A surviving partner who is not married to you or in a civil partnership will have no automatic right to inherit from you.  If you die without leaving a Will such a partner will only inherit if you make a Will leaving your estate or part of your estate to them.

Do I need to use a solicitor to make a Will?

Although a Will is a legally binding document, it does not need to be drawn up by or witnessed by a  solicitor. If you wish to make a Will yourself, you can do so. However, trying to make your own Will without assistance, can lead to mistakes or lack of clarity and could mean that your Will is invalid. There are specific requirements for the signing of a Will which if not followed  an also make your Will invalid.

We recommend using a solicitor to draft your Will who will have been professionally trained to so to ensure that your wishes are appropriately reflected.

Similarly, if a Trust is required or there are numerous beneficiaries, a professionally drafted Will gives peace of mind and can make it easier for those you leave behind.

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