Making a Will
What is a Will?
A Will is a document which sets out who is to benefit from your estate after your death and how your estate is to be divided. The assets in an estate could include money in Bank or Building Society accounts, land or property, personal goods and Stocks and Shares. The Will also appoints the person or persons who will manage or administer the estate.
The importance of making a Will
Making a Will ensures that your loved ones will be provided for and enables YOU to choose how your estate will be divided, instead of leaving the choice up to the State. A Will can also help to reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax to be paid.
When someone dies without having made a Will, it can create distress for the family at a time of bereavement. It can also take far longer and cost more to deal with the administration of the estate.
You can leave your property or money to anyone you wish – for example, a friend or a charity as well as members of your family. Where a person dies without having made a Will there are rules which set out in a strict order the members of your family who will benefit from your estate and in what shares. An unmarried partner (other than a civil partner) is NEVER included in the category of people who benefit when a person dies without having made a Will and, where there are no surviving relatives at all, then the entire estate will pass to the Crown.
You may also want to assure your children’s future by appointing guardians to bring them up should the worst happen.
Executors and Trustees
The Executor or Executors will be in charge of winding up the estate. This will include getting in all monies belonging to the estate, selling any property if necessary and paying off any debts, including Inheritance Tax in larger estates. The Executor(s) will then hand over the remaining monies to those entitled to it in accordance with the terms of the Will. Where there are young children who benefit under the Will, it is necessary to appoint Trustees to look after their money until they are old enough to have the money paid directly to them.
You can appoint one or more persons who benefit from the Will as Executors and Trustees. Alternatively, you may wish to appoint a professional who is experienced in the administration of estates, and the Partners of Hand Morgan & Owen would be happy to take up the appointment of Executors if you so wish.
Making and changing a Will
A Will is a legal document and we would therefore recommend that you seek the advice of a solicitor, whether you are making a Will for the first time or updating an existing Will. Hand Morgan & Owen have over 250 years of experience of making Wills and administering estates, both large and small.
If you decide to instruct a solicitor it would be helpful if, beforehand, you make a list of everything you own with the approximate values. You should also note down the names and addresses of everyone you want to benefit and what you would like to leave each one.
We recommend that you should review your Will every few years, or when your circumstances change, for example, through marriage or divorce.
For further advice, contact our wills and probate specialists at Hand Morgan & Owen on Stafford 01785 211411 or Rugeley 01889 583871.
Updated January 2008
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances. (50587)