Frequently asked Wills, Probate and Estate questions.
When should I make a Will?
The simple answer is now, because if anything happened to you and you died without leaving a Will, it could cause distress to your family and loved ones.In this situation the Law decides how your estate is divided up and your personal wishes may not be fulfilled.
I made a Will several years ago.
It is good to know you have already made a Will, but life moves on and you need to ask yourself if your Will still reflects your wishes.For example, family circumstances alter, new grandchildren appear, people may die or divorce, your financial position may have changed. It is good to re-read your Will every few years. Then, if it does not meet your current wishes, you can easily get it altered or prepare a new one.
What if I want to change my Will?
This is quite straightforward. Your solicitor can either include an additional document (a codicil) which alters or adds to your existing Will, or you can have a new Will written. You are allowed to change your mind!
Can I afford to make a Will?
Making a Will may not cost as much as you think. Ask local solicitors what they charge, before you decide which one to use. Perhaps the question should be “Can I afford not to make a will?”
Who benefits from my Will?
Only you can decide who benefits from your estate. The people closest to you normally take priority. Remember, by making a Will your wishes can be fulfilled.If there are any other friends or relatives you wish to benefit, a specific legacy can be included for each of them. Likewise, your parish or any other charity you wish to benefit can be left a legacy.
Some may also say the Chancellor will benefit from you Will, as if your total estate is in excess of a laid down threshold the balance is subject to inheritance tax. But did you know that as the law stands, any legacy that you leave to charity (which includes your parish church) is exempted from inheritance tax?
Who will make sure my wishes are carried out?
Your Will will name the executor, or executors, who is/are responsible for carrying out your wishes. So you will need to think of one or more people that you can trust to do this, and check that they are willing to take on this responsibility.
What information will my solicitor need?
Make a list of what you own and its approximate value. You should include all the major items – including your home, savings, shares, life insurance policies, car etc. This will save you time and money when you visit your solicitor.
Now make a list of all of your liabilities,that is what you owe others. This includes mortgage, bank loans and any other debts that will have to be repaid.
Then make a list of all the people you wish to include in your Will and what you think that you want to leave to each of them. Remember to make a note of their full name, and of their current address. This will help your solicitor to know what your wishes are. The fine details can, of course be adjusted in the course of writing the Will.
This is also a good time to consider which other beneficiaries you might wish to include: your local parish church, a mission society, your favourite charity etc.
As indicated previously you will need to tell your solicitor who you propose to be your executor/s.
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