Getting a will written is a vitally important process which all too many people neglect to undertake. It’s not hard to see why this might be the case; it involves pondering the fact that you’ll one day pass away and leave your loved ones to cope without you, but the truth of the matter is that getting a will is actually all about protecting those loved ones. We specialise in family law at Higgins Miller, and that means helping people to cope with highly stressful events such as divorce, children disputes and domestic abuse. It also means instructing individuals when they are getting a will, as any mistakes in the process could lead to lengthy delays in the state being settled and even more stress and expense for those left behind.
Although we’re experts with in-depth experience of working with wills and probate, we understand that there’s much more to providing the best family law services than simply expertise. When you contact us to enquire about getting a will you’ll find yourself dealing with people who speak easily understood English, rather than jargon and legalese, and who are willing to guide you through the process step by step until you can be completely certain that your wishes will be followed after your death.
The first and most important thing to decide before getting a will written up is exactly how you wish your assets to be divided. You can make bequests by specifying individuals or organisations – such as charities – which you would like to leave particular assets to. These assets can range from something as major as property to items of jewellery or artworks which have more of a sentimental value than anything else. It’s also possible to name particular individuals to receive what is known as the ‘residue’ of an estate or particular asset, which means anything that is left over. An example of this might involve leaving £10,000 from a specific bank account to an individual with the residue to be given to another individual. An arrangement of this kind when getting a will would allow for the fact that the amount in the specified bank account over and above £10,000 might vary depending upon when the will actually come into effect. In more general terms, a residual legacy will include anything that is left after all specific bequests have been taken into account, and also after debts have been paid and any inheritance tax or other taxes due have been dealt with.
The issue of property is usually at the forefront of people’s minds when getting a will, since their home is the most valuable asset which the majority of people have. If you own the home outright then you are free to leave it to whoever you choose to name in your will, but if you are one half of a joint tenancy then your 50% of the property will automatically pass to the other joint tenant. If, on the other hand, you have what is known as a ‘tenancy in common’ then you are free to opt to leave your 50% of the property to another individual, who will, when the will is enacted, become a tenant in common with the other tenant. It’s also possible to give an individual the ‘right of residency’ to live in your home until a specified date. This could be when the other person dies, when they have to move into residential care or, in some cases, when they are no longer raising any children left behind. For the purposes of wider estate planning it should be remembered that a spouse won’t be liable for inheritance tax on the value of any assets you leave to them, and the inheritance tax liability, in general, may be lower if you opt to leave a property to a direct descendant, such as a child or grandchild.
The complexities which can arise over something as seemingly simple as leaving your home to someone else are a clear illustration of why you should always seek expert advice and help when getting a will written. In the majority of cases – to give a further example of possible complications – any inheritance tax dues will be paid from the residual estate mentioned previously, but it is possible to make different stipulations in your will. You can state that the person having a property left to them, for example, has to pay any inheritance tax due. If you have responsibility for children under the age of 18 then your will should stipulate who will become their guardian in the event of both parents dying. Failure to do so will result in the family courts making the decision for you. You can also deal with the issue of leaving money to fund looking after these children, and in most cases, this will involve setting up a trust to manage the money until the children turn 18. In some cases, people decide that this is too young an age for an individual to inherit a sizeable sum of money, and so they opt to set other milestones, such as a specific age or graduating from university. If the management of any trust of this kind isn’t set out in your will then it will be dealt with by your executors working in line with ‘trustee law’.
As the preceding brief outline makes clear, getting a will written can be highly complicated and, if you want to be assured that your nearest and dearest will be looked after as you wish them to be following your death, then working with experts like those at Higgins Miller is the very best means of putting your mind at rest. If you’d like to learn more about getting a will written please call us on 0161 429 7251 or email us at [email protected] We’ve recently passed our Cyber Essential accreditation, something which demonstrates our forward-thinking attitude and determination to remain ahead of the competition. A 20-minute appraisal can be provided free of charge, and if you want to find out more we’ll provide a first appointment for a fixed fee, so you don’t have to worry about how much our advice is going to cost. If you want to learn about our wider charging system then please take a look here.