Will writing Service

South England Solicitors can provide advice on Wills, and draft and execute at a competitive rate. It should always be the case that a will is made by a person of sound mind; free from duress or coercion; and that the intentions of the maker of a will are carried out in the event of the maker’s death. It is our duty to ensure this always happens. We offer home or hospital visits for elderly and physically challenged clients who are unable to attend our office at a reasonable cost.

Why and who should make a will?

  • If you care about what happens to your property after you die, you should make a will. Without one, the State directs who inherits, so your friends, favourite charities and relatives may get nothing;
  • It is particularly important to make a will if you are not married or not in a registered civil partnership ( a legal arrangement that gives same sex-partners the same status as a married couple). This is because the law does not automatically recognize cohabitants (partners who lives together) as having the same rights as husbands, wives and civil partners. As a result, even if you’ve lived together for many years, your cohabitant may be left with nothing if you have not made a will;
  • A will is also vital if you have children or dependants who may not be able to care for themselves. Without a will there could be uncertainty about who will look after or provide for them if you die;
  • A solicitor can also adviCe you on how inheritance tax affects what you own;
  • If several people could make a claim on your estate when you die because they depend on you financially;
  • You want to include a trust in your will (perhaps to provide for young children or a disabled person, save tax or simply protect your assets in some way after you die;
  • Your permanent home is not in the UK or you are not a British citizen;
  • You live here but you have overseas property; or
  • You own all or part of a business.

Do I need a solicitor to draw up my will?

Although it is possible to write a will without a solicitor’s help, this is generally not advisable as there are various legal formalities you need to follow to make sure that your will is valid. Without the help of an expert, there’s a real risk you could make a mistake, which could cause problems for your family and friends after your death.

Keeping your will up to date.

You should review your will at least every five years or after any major life changes such as getting into a civil partnership, married, separated or divorced or dissolution of civil partnership, having a child or moving house. This major events in your life will affect the validity of your previously drawn will as a whole or partly without you realising it. Therefore it is best to deal with any major changes be getting a new will drawn up. But it is also possible to make minor changes ( or “codicils”) to your existing will. In both cases it is best to consult a solicitor.

Attestation of a will ( simply means signing a will)

Once the will has been drawn up it is not effective until it has been signed. There are several rules affecting the signature process which if not followed correctly, will make your will invalid. For example, witnesses and their husbands, wives, or civil partners cannot benefit under the will. Therefore it is our normal practice to use our own staff at the office to act as witness in order to avoid any problems.

Where to keep your will?

It is important to keep your will in a safe place and tell your executors or a close friend or relative where it is. People often ask their solicitors to store their wills for them.

What information do we need at the time of instructions?
1. What you own

Details of everything you own, including property, cars, personal valuables,stocks an shares, bank accounts, insurance policies, any businesses you own and pensions.

2. Who gets what

Who do you want to leave these assets to? How do you want to divide your property between your loved ones, friends or charities? Are there any conditions you want to attach to these gifts (for example, that young people must reach a particular age before they are paid money you have left them)?

3. Family and other beneficiaries

All the details of your family members and their status i.e Are you divorced or has your civil partnership been dissolved? Have you remarried or entered into a new civil partnership? Or are you living with someone without being married to them or being their civil partner? Do you have any children or any other dependants? Anyone who depends on you financially can ask a court to review your will if they feel you have not provided properly for them. So if you give all the relevant details, then we can tell you about any legal pitfalls.

4. Guardians

If you have any children that may still be under 18 when you die, you may need to name someone as their legal guardian.

5. Other wishes

Do you have any particular wishes for your funeral? Do you want to be buried or cremated? Are there any other instructions? For example, if you want to be an organ donor this can be included in your will. However, it is also a good idea to record your wishes on the organ-donor register, or to carry an organ – donor card.

6. Executors of your will

You must also name the people you want to appoint as “executors” of your will – the people who carry out the administration of your will after your death. These could be friends or family members, or a professional such as solicitors. A good combination would be a friend or family member and a professional. Ideally, you should choose someone who is familiar with financial matters. Make sure you ask your executors whether they are happy to take on this duty as there are long term responsibilities involved, particularly if you include a trust in your will. It is a good idea to ask someone younger than you are.

Jargon words used in a will:-

  • An Administrator is someone who is appointed by law to settle your affairs if you die without a will
  • A Beneficiary is anyone who receives something from a will.
  • A Bequest (legacy) – is a gift left in a will. It can be
  • Specific –  a definite object / property
  • Pecuniary –  a gift of a particular sum of money
  • Residuary – a gift of money or assets left when other legacies & expenses have been paid. It is normally expressed as a part or percentage of the residue of your estates
  • A codicil is an addition or amendment to an existing Will.
  • Your Estate is the total value of everything you own at your death, less any outstanding commitment.
  • An Executor is the person you choose to make your will happen. They can be a relative, a friend or your solicitor.
  • Guardians are the people chosen by parents to look after their children in the event of their death.
  • Intestacy is the name for the situation which arises when someone dies without making a will.
  • Inheritance Tax – Inheritance Tax is usually paid on an estate when somebody dies. It’s also sometimes payable on trusts or gifts made during someone’s lifetime. Most estates don’t have to pay Inheritance Tax because they are valued at less than the threshold (£325,000 in 2009-10).
  • Probate – is the legal process to establish whether your will is valid. If not, an Administrator is appointed.
  • Testator/ Testatrix is the person making a will
  • A Trust is an arrangement you can make in your Will to administer part of your assets after your death.