Wills & Probate Overview
Having taken the decision to make your Will, help is at hand from one of our professional Will writers. You can visit our offices in Norwich City Centre or ask for a home visit (subject to area).
The Will writers job is to take your instructions and translate these into your Will, creating a document which accurately reflects your wishes. At the same time you will be offered advice on how to protect your estate from putting life policies into Trust, protecting you from Care Home fees as well as Inheritance tax planning to name a few.
The Will needs to be understood by your executors and most importantly, The Probate Court, to ensure that it is proved quickly to minimise any problems which may occur causing delays and possible hardship to your loved-ones.
There are some important questions which you need to consider before meeting with your Will writer. By having many of the answers available it will leave more time to discuss the other important issues which may arise during the consultation.
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Additional Written Wills Information
Appointment of Executors
You do not need to appoint other 'professionals' to act as an executor or trustee of your estate, unless there is the likelihood of trust arising, Professional Executors will charge your estate to act, and in many cases, for duties which a layperson could have done.
It may be better to appoint a member of your family, a prime beneficiary or close friends to act, remember,
AN EXECUTOR CAN ALSO BE A BENEFICIARY, therefore quite often a spouse will be the executor AND the beneficiary, in effect they make sure the money goes to themselves.
If you do need to appoint a professional executor, Premier Wills & Probate Ltd will be happy to advice you on this.
If you have young children, you should consider the appointment of guardians to take care of them until they reach the age of 18. If you are the only surviving parent and have the care of your children, appointing a guardian is particularly important. If you are married and living with the other parent, you may wish to name guardians in case you die together. As in the case of executors and trustees, you should check with the proposed guardians to ensure they are willing and able to act.
How you hold your property will determine how it passes on your death. As 'Joint Tenants' your share will pass to the survivor automatically . If you wish to pass your 'interest' in the property to your children or others, you should hold your property as 'Tenants in Common'.
- Specific Gifts - decide now if you wish to leave any other members of your family or friends a special gift. Perhaps jewellery or paintings.
- Pecuniary Legacies - this is the term for a gift of money, again give some thought as to anyone, other than your spouse or children, who you may wish to leave legacy to, this could include gifts to your favourite charity (if a charity try and have the address and registration number available).
- Residuary Legacy - The residuary estate is what is left over after the decendent's debts, probate expenses and specific bequests have been satisfied. Normally, a Will provides for the residuary (left-over) estate to be divided among named individuals.
- Long Stop - also described as the 'total calamity of disaster' clause, so called because these beneficiaries will only inherit if all those named as your residuary beneficiaries fail to survive you.
- Funeral Wishes - you may choose to ignore this section. For those that wish to leave specific instructions, such as cremation or burial and whether flowers or donations are to be given, you should complete this section. It must be pointed out that whatever your request, these are only a wish and not binding on your executors to carry them out if they are unable to.
Finally, whatever you have put in your Will - and it is personal only to you - make sure that your executors can find it when the time comes. Tell them where you keep your Will and how they can get access to it.
What Happens if you do not Make a Will?
- If you are married with no children - your wife or husband inherits the first £200,000 plus half of the rest of the estate. Over that amount other relatives can make a claim and things can become very complicated.
- If you are married with children - your wife or husband inherits £125,000 plus a life interest in one half of the rest of the estate. The other half goes to the children in equal shares.
- If you are single, divorced or widowed - your property goes to your next of kin - who is that? And do you want them to inherit them all?!
- If you are married, but separated - your wife or husband would have a claim. Do you want that?
- If you live with someone, but are not married to them - they will normally recieve nothing from your estate, not even your share of the home.
- If you have no relatives - your property goes to the crown!
- If you have made a Will already, but subsequently married - the Will is automatically revoked.
Finally, without a Will you have no control over your affairs and have to rely upon the rules made by parliament. Even if these are satisfactory now, parliament could change those rules at some future date.
Storing your Will
Deciding where to keep your Will is an important consideration. Ideally it should be in a fire proof and water proof safe but still accessible for your Executors.
Here at Independent House we have a 4 inch thick steel vault door made by Hobbs & Company, established in 1852 - we like to think our facilities are bomb proof too!
At independent House we offer Will storage facilities for just £30 per annum including free life time alterations. We also allow mirrored Wills to be stored as one, giving you 100% discount on the second Will.
Your executors are made aware of our location and upon production of a death certificate that have immediate access to your last wishes.
Why you Might Need to Amend a Will
Common reasons for amending a Will are:
- finding a new partner
- losing an old partner
- additions or loses to the family
- changing address
- change in financial circumstances.
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We recognise some Wills can be quite simple and for that reason we have developed an online Will Writing Service. We recommend this method only if you are budget conscious and prefer to have a simple Will rather than none at all.