Our services Will Drafting and Advice

Will Writing

We offer a personal and cost effective Will writing service and aim to make the process as quick and accessible as possible. (See “Why to Make a Will” below).

We comply with the STEP Code for Will Preparation www.step.org/will-code and generally work on the basis of agreed fixed charges. A guide price is available on request but we do need some idea of your circumstances and intentions, and the extent of ancillary advice required, before committing to a figure. Our charges are calculated on the complexity of the work involved so that, for example, we would normally expect to agree a higher charge for a Will creating complex trusts, or taking account of different jurisdictions, than for a more conventional family Will.

Capacity and Undue Influence

A Will can be challenged on grounds that the person making it did not have the proper mental capacity and/or was subject to undue influence when they signed it. However unfairly, such claims tend to carry greater weight as a person gets older, more isolated, or if they make unconventional gifts. Where there is any possible question, it is sensible to ask a doctor to confirm capacity and/or to take steps to counter concerns about undue influence.

Other Advice

Wills can be an effective vehicle for tax planning and can be used to preserve assets for future generations. We are happy to discuss and advise on these aspects and can obtain further specialist tax or trust advice where appropriate.

Although we can only advise on matters of English law, and may recommend that you take additional local advice, we can advise on the implications for your Will where you have connections with or assets in another country. We have an interest in cross-jurisdictional matters and welcome enquiries.

We are also happy to discuss any queries about existing Wills, for example about validity, the meaning or effect, disputes or challenges, jurisdictional issues or tax, and can obtain specialist advice.

Storage

We do not store Wills and generally recommend that you store your Will with the Probate Registry for a one-off charge of £20 https://formfinder.hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/pa007-eng.pdf. We will also discuss the advantages of registering your Will with Certainty www.nationalwillregister.co.uk.

 

WHY TO MAKE A WILL

1. People often put off making a Will, but it is something every adult should think about, to try to make sure that when they die, their estate will pass to the people they want to benefit rather than to the people named by law as the beneficiaries on intestacy where there is no valid Will, who may be different. Linked with this, a Will allows the person making it to name Executors to administer the estate, rather than leaving it to the Court to appoint administrators, usually the main beneficiary(ies) on intestacy.

2. The intestacy law benefits traditional “family” members in strict order and makes no provision for an unmarried partner, co-habitee or “common law wife” (let alone friends, god-children, foster children etc). Even a spouse or civil partner can be left with less than expected where significant assets are not held in joint names. Although people in these categories may be able to apply to the Court for provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act (IPFDA), that can be a stressful and prohibitively expensive business.

3. You should also bear in mind that generally (and there are exceptions):

  • Marriage/civil partnership will revoke an earlier Will
  • Divorce, dissolution of a civil partnership or judicial separation will not revoke an earlier Will but it will be read as if the former spouse/civil partner had died on the date of the divorce, dissolution or judicial separation. Otherwise, there is no cut off point and a Will remains in force until you die or actively revoke it, without regard to any changes in circumstance. Estrangement or non-judicial separation of partners (however long in duration) does not affect an earlier Will.

4. By Will (which should be reviewed and updated from time to time):

  • You can leave your estate as you wish (subject to the risk of IPFDA claims), in whatever proportion absolutely or on trust, to people, corporations or charity
  • You can name executors to administer your estate
  • You can express funeral wishes and nominate guardians for your children
  • You can effect tax planning or asset preservation measures
  • You can try to resolve any jurisdictional issues which could arise where you have links with a foreign jurisdiction in particular if
    • you own or stand to inherit property outside England and Wales, or
    • you are a foreign national or hold dual nationality, or
    • your permanent home is abroad or you have lived or intend to live abroad

5. You do not need a solicitor to draw up a Will, but if you make a mistake, it may only come to light after you have died, when it may be too late to rectify it. We believe the risks of a homemade Will significantly outweigh the fairly limited cost of a professional Will, and there may also be evidential advantages, but it is particularly important to take advice if you intend to exclude a dependent or child, if there are jurisdictional or tax issues, or if there is any question at all about your “testamentary capacity”.

NOTE: This note is intended to highlight some of the issues you need to think about when you are making a Will. It is not intended as advice and no one should rely on it for the purposes of making a Will or at all. We would invite you to call us to discuss the position and likely cost.