A Will is vital in Inheritance Tax (IHT) planning and it is important to ensure it is planned correctly and well written to avoid ambiguity. Mistakes in your will could leave your relatives with high legal fees.
What is a Will?
A Will is a document that states what you want to happen to your estate when you die. Your possessions, property, pensions and money are all part of your estate.
Do I need a Will?
A Will can help you to mitigate Inheritance Tax upon death. Having a Will in place can ensure your assets go where you want them to.
If you die without a Will, there are certain rules that dictate how your assets are allocated and who they go to.
What is an executor of a Will?
An executor is the person(s) who you appoint to administer your estate, in line with the terms of your Will, after your death.
What do I need to include in a Will?
A Will typically states who you want to leave your assets to, how you want your assets to be divided and who your executors are. It can also include setting up a Trust or guardianship for children.
When do I need to make a Will?
Young clients who do not have big estates often do not think it is important to have a Will. However, it is important to make a Will as soon as possible, particularly if you own property or have children to look after. A Will provides you with peace of mind knowing that your family will be looked after according to your wishes should the worst happen.
What are the requirements for a Will to be valid?
For a Will to be valid in England & Wales:
- The Will must have been entered into by someone over the age of 18.
- The Will must have been entered into a person who is (a) of sound mind (b) drafts the Will voluntarily and without duress.
- The Will must be in writing.
- The Will must be signed in the presence of two witnesses. If either witness is a beneficiary of the Will, or married to a beneficiary of the Will, that witness cannot subsequently inherit.
The rules for a valid Will are different under Scottish Law.
How much does it cost to make a Will?
The cost of a Will depends on your own personal requirements and therefore the complexity of the Will that you require. At Four Wealth Management, we will refer you to a suitably qualified third-party provider. The service provided is separate and distinct to the services provided by St. James’s Place. Please note that Wills are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Where should I keep my Will?
You Will should be kept in a safe place such as at home, with a solicitor or accountant or at a bank.
Do I need a solicitor to make a Will?
You do not need a Will to be witnessed by a solicitor, you can make a Will yourself. However, you may wish to consult with a solicitor for peace of mind that your Will is valid. If you make mistakes in your Will, it can cause many issues and legal costs for your family after your death.
Common mistakes in Wills that make them invalid include failing to take into account all your assets and failing to take into account the possibility that a beneficiary may die before the person making the Will.
You are likely to need advice on writing a Will if your circumstances are not straightforward, for example if you share a property with someone who is not your spouse, if you own a business or if you have property overseas.
When do I need to review my Will?
It is important that you regularly review your Will and ensure it reflects any changes in circumstances or legislation. A Legal Adviser can help ensure that your arrangement is flexible as you may need to make changes due to changes in your personal finances, adding additional beneficiaries or if new legislation comes into place.
Do I need a Will if I own a business?
It is important to seek legal advice when writing a Will if you own a business. You need to decide on the beneficiaries to inherit the business as well as who will run and build the business. Without a Will, your company shares could be sold or the business could even be broken up if you have not dictated how the business should be run in your Will.
What happens to my property if I do not make a Will?
Dying without a Will in place is also known as dying ‘intestate’. The law then dictates how your property and assets are distributed upon your death and who the beneficiaries are.
Who can be a witness?
In order for your Will to be legally valid you must sign it in the presence of 2 witnesses who are over the age of 18. The two witnesses also need to sign the Will.
You should choose independent people to witness your Will, such as a colleague, neighbour or lawyer. Witnesses can be related to each other.
What happens to a Will if you get married
When you marry, any existing Will is automatically invalidated unless it was drafted in contemplation of marriage. You should make a new Will as soon as possible.
What happens to a Will if you get divorced?
A divorce can impact the terms of you Will. Your Will remains valid after divorce but your ex-spouse would no longer be able to benefit from the Will unless you state otherwise. They can also no longer act as an executor or trustee of your estate.
Any assets the ex-spouse was due to inherit will be passed onto the next beneficiary who is entitled to it in line with the terms of the Will. If no other beneficiaries are listed, the estate will be treated as if you had died without a Will and assets would be divided according to the law.
It is advisable to make a new Will immediately after divorce, particularly if your ex-spouse was named as a beneficiary or trustee.
Can I change my Will after making it?
Your Legal Adviser can help ensure your arrangement is flexible to allow you to make changes to you Will to reflect any changes in your personal circumstances. If you wish to make major changes to your Will, it may be better to make a new one.
Alterations to an existing Will must be signed and witnessed in order to be valid.
Help ensure you family are financially secure
At Four Wealth Management, our Financial Advisers can refer you to a Will Writing service.