An insight into making a will
28th August 2015
Our whole lives we work to help provide for ourselves and for our loved ones and this ultimately sees us buy a house or flat within the UK (or overseas), create businesses, buy shares, make investments, buy personal possessions and have savings.
This is what is known as your “estate” and by making a will this means that when you die all of your assets are shared according to your wishes.
As those working in solicitor jobs will tell you, everyone should make a will, and here at LAW Absolute we have detailed some key things you need to know, as well as looking into how a recent court case could affect making a will from now on.
Why people make a will?
To help answer these questions, we asked a registered trust and estate practitioner what the main reasons for people deciding to make a will were.
Philip Dart, a Registered Trust and Estate Practitioner at Paul Finn Solicitors and a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, said there are six common reasons for people deciding to make a will.
1. They have a hospital appointment or are suffering ill-health and are anxious to protect their family.
2. They are going on holiday and want to put their affairs in order for peace of mind.
3. They are getting older and are concerned about the implications of care fees if they have to go into a care home in later life.
4. They have a substantial estate and are worried about inheritance tax liability.
5. They are getting married/remarried and wish to protect their children from a previous marriage.
6. A change of circumstances such as the birth of a grandchild
What a solicitor will need to know
There are a number of details that a solicitor needs to find out when making a will and according to the Law Society Gazette these include:
1.Finding out what you own, including all your assets such as property and vehicles owned, as well as any savings, shares or bonds you have.
2. You need to reveal who is going to be left your estate. If you have a number of children and/or grandchildren that you want to leave parts of your estate to then you will need to detail who gets what.
3. Other wishes also need to be stated such as whether you would like to be buried or cremated.
How much does a solicitor cost?
Citizens Advice says that the cost for drawing up a will varies between solicitors and law firms, but it is always worth checking with a number of local law firms to find out how much they charge.
The complexity of a will can sometimes affect the cost of making a will, which is why Citizens Advice also suggest that people should think about what they want to say in their will before meeting up with their solicitor.
What will happen if someone dies without a will?
If a valid will is not drawn up and someone dies then “Rules of Intestacy” apply. This means the deceased’s estate will be divided up in a pre-determined way and people that someone may have left part of their estate to will not get anything.
The Heather Ilott court case
Recently there was a landmark Court of Appeal ruling made that could change wills. The court case saw Heather Ilott given £164,000 from her estranged mother’s estate despite her mother’s decision to leave her £486,000 estate to animal charities when she died.
The court ruled that the daughter should receive a third of her mother’s estate as the charities had no connection to the deceased and the mother had not left a reasonable provision for her daughter.
But after the court ruling, what long-lasting impact will this have on the way wills are drawn up in the future?
Philip Dart, said, “The decision will be worrying for Wills draftsmen as, in this case, the mother took professional advice and a careful letter was prepared explaining why she was excluding her daughter under her Will. In the letter, Mrs Jackson also instructed her Executors to defend any claim on her estate that might be brought by her daughter.
“A key factor in this case seems to have been that the mother had little connection with the three animal charities she left her estate to. This will be of concern to charities who rely heavily on legacy income and may be concerned that the case will lead to claims against them by children who are disappointed to be left out of their parents’ Wills.
“In future it will be important for someone wishing to disinherit their child to explain their decision as clearly and fully as possible and for the solicitor to record their reasons. If the client is leaving his estate to charity it will be advisable to record why they are doing this and explain any connections or dealings they have had with the charity during their lifetime.
“It is rare for an adult child who can work to succeed in such a claim against her mother’s estate. It appears that the Court took sympathy on Heather Ilott who was on state benefits and had very limited means. However, this may not be an end to the matter as I understand the charities are considering a further appeal.”
Image Credit: corgarashu, EDHAR (Shutterstock), Michael D Beckwith (flickr.com)