As family law experts, the team at Higgins Miller are used to dealing with some of the most difficult issues that people ever have to face. Although matters such as divorce, children disputes and domestic abuse are clearly extremely stressful the topic which many of our clients find the most difficult to cope with is often writing a will. As expert will writers we understand feelings like this, but we also know how important writing a will actually is. A period such as that which the UK has been going through in 2020, with the news dominated by stories of a pandemic and the numbers sadly passing away, means it’s little wonder that more people are finally deciding they can’t put off writing a will any longer. The good news is that, no matter what extent lockdown is or isn’t lifted by, our will writers are ready and waiting to help with all aspects of the process.
The first thing our will writers will do is sit down and explain exactly why writing a will is such a vital thing to do. In the first instance, a will offers complete peace of mind for both the person writing it and their loved ones. Our will writers ensure that you know exactly how your closest family members and friends will be looked after if you die, up to and including choosing to leave certain items – such as a work of art perhaps or a much-loved heirloom – to a particular person. In addition, they will know how to go about leaving a portion of your estate to a specific charity, and what the rules are surrounding Inheritance Tax and the process of probate.
Our will writers will also explain that putting off writing a will places you at risk of dying ‘intestate’. This is a piece of legal jargon which means that everything you leave behind will be divided and handed out in line with strict rules, rather than being divided in the way you wanted it to be. This means, for example, that if you have a spouse or civil partner but no children, then the whole of your estate will pass to them. If you do have children, then the first £250,000 of your estate and all of your possessions will be given to your spouse, as will half of any more money which is left, with the remainder being divided equally between your children. As well as dictating who gets what, the fact that expert will writers haven’t been involved will mean that your estate takes longer than necessary to work through the process of probate, which means more time passing before your family are able to access the estate you’ve left to them. During a period such as this, when public services are still under huge amounts of extra pressure due to the impact of COVID-19 and the lockdown, the process is likely to take even longer than usual, and when everything is finalised, there’s a good chance that not working with our will writers will increase the amount of Inheritance tax that has to be paid, leaving your family with much less of what you wanted to leave to them.
Some people opt to write their own will rather than working with will writers, or make use of an online tool. This may seem like a money saving option in the short term, but could lead to huge problems further down the line. The strict and precise nature of the law surrounding wills and estates means that the slightest mistake – even over something as seemingly simple as how the will is dated and signed – could lead to the will being challenged. Not only will this further delay the dividing of your estate as you wished, it will cause additional distress for your family members when they are probably least able to cope. Not only do our will writers promise to prepare a legally binding document on your behalf, they also offer a highly competitive service via our fixed fee provision, the cost of which covers a meeting with our will writers and the production of a draft will.
In a meeting such as this our will writers will ask for a comprehensive list of your assets, including the likes of properties, personal belongings, savings, pensions and insurance policies. By adding all of this together and then deducting debts such as loans, personal debts and mortgages, our will writers will come up with the total value of your estate. They’ll also explain that this is a figure which needs to be revised on a regular basis, as the value of items such as property tends to fluctuate over time.
As well as explaining how your assets could be divided, our experts will explain that you need to choose an executor for your will. This is the name given to the person who, after your death, will be responsible for ensuring your instructions are followed. Many people choose a spouse or a child aged over 18, as there is no issue with a beneficiary also being an executor. The complexity of the law around wills and probate can be challenging, however, so many people opt to name a professional such as a lawyer, often working in partnership with a family member. If you’d like to ask us anything about our will writers, simply 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. An initial 20-minute appraisal can be provided free of charge, and our fixed fee first appointment scheme means you can access help without worrying about rising costs. If you want to explore our wider charging system then please take a look here.