Why are Wills important?

It’s important to make your own will, and we at Ascroft Whiteside can help and support you through your journey of creating one. Here are some reasons for why it is important to have a will –

•    Making a Will ensures that your wishes are carried out and that your loved ones are provided for after your death.
•    Dying without a Will could result in your family suffering from legal problems as well as trying to cope with the loss of a loved one.
•    If you die without a Will the laws of intestacy determine who will inherit your money and property, meaning that it may not go to the person you want it to.
•    A lot of married people automatically assume that their possessions would go to their partner, but this is not always the case and in some circumstances could be left with nothing.
•    If you have children it is especially important to make a will so you can appoint legal guardians in the event of your death.

What do I need to know about making a Will?

•    You can write your own will but it is important to get legal advice and to set up a meeting with a solicitor to take you through what you need to know, as well as making sure that your will is interpreted the way you want it to be.
•    You also need to get your will formally signed and witnessed in order to make it legally valid.
•    Think about who you want to make a benefactor and whether you want to give a gift to an organisation or charity.
•    It is important to think about who you want to look after your estate and carry out your wishes after your death as well as what you would want to happen if the benefactor you have chosen dies before you do.
•    Sometimes complexities of life make wills not as straightforward and this is when you need legal advice to help make your wishes clear.
•    It is important that you keep your will safe and that the person who you want to carry out your wishes knows where it is kept.
•    It is important to review your will every five years or after any major life changes such as divorce or getting married.
•    If you want to make an alteration to your will, you have to do this through something called a codicil, and again this must be witnessed and signed.
•    If you need to make major changes to your will you need to make a new will outlining why you have revoked the previous will in order to cancel it along with your new wishes.

If you need our help writing or updating your will, get in touch with us via our website or call 01253 766866

Outdated & DIY Wills

Scarlett Stephens - Ascroft Whiteside Solicitors

Scarlett Stephens – Trainee Solicitor, Probate department, at Ascroft Whiteside solicitors.

When dealing with a Probate, I often heave a sigh of relief when I see that the person created a Will. Usually, the Will clearly sets out who the deceased wanted to have as their Executors (people responsible for dealing with their estate) and who they wanted as their beneficiaries

However, I’m coming across more estates where there is either an outdated will or a ‘Do It Yourself’ Will and I have issues with both.

Outdated wills

When you create a Will, you tend to do so based on your current circumstances which is good- I advise my clients to tell me what they would want to happen to their estate should they pass away the next day! But, it’s also important to consider the future. You might choose to leave everything to one person, but if that person predeceased you and your will doesn’t specify a substitute beneficiary then your estate will pass via the intestacy rules. This may mean it’s distributed to people you wouldn’t have chose or it is given to the Government if you have no surviving relatives. It can be morbid to consider the ‘what if?’ dilemmas, but it will provide you with peace of mind knowing you have included a back up.

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Another way a Will can be outdated is if you name a spouse who you then go onto divorce. Once a Decree Absolute is granted your spouse is treated as having pre-deceased you, so any reference to them in your Will is invalid. Similarly, if you create a Will and then enter marriage or a civil partnership this revokes any Wills previously made. As a rule of thumb, you should consider reviewing your Will after a life event and every 5 years.

DIY wills

I have also encountered a number of homemade Wills during my time dealing with probates. Sometimes these estates are dealt with easily and without issue. However, I have encountered Wills where the wording has caused confusion and ambiguous interpretations. I’ve also dealt with Wills where the layout has not been accepted by the Probate Registry meaning additional documents have then had to be produced to prove the validity of the will.

Conclusion
This has only been a brief introduction into the some of the problems encountered when dealing with Wills and estates. Hopefully, you will agree that it is important to create a will and seek legal advice from an experienced solicitor when doing so.

If you would like to create a Will or review your existing one, please do not hesitate to contact us.