As family law specialists we’re used to dealing with clients who are coping with some of the most stressful events that life can throw at people. These can include the end of a relationship and divorce, children disputes, cases involving domestic abuse and interactions with social services. Amongst the most difficult life-events involving interaction with the legal profession is the death of a loved one. This is because the issue of dealing with the grief naturally being felt is compounded by the fact that an event such as a death – and dealing with how a person wished to have their estate divided – involves a great deal of paperwork and clerical matters. That’s why we know, as will writing solicitors, just how important actually sitting down to write a will is.
The first question we seek to answer as will writing solicitors is why writing a will is necessary. The simple answer to this question is that it will give peace of mind to you and your loved ones, providing an assurance that, in the event of your death, those closest to you will be provided for as you wish them to be. In addition to this overall impact, writing a will enables individuals to make choices such as leaving particular items – a favourite piece of jewellery for example – to specific people, or bequeathing a set amount to a chosen charity. The risk of not writing a will at the earliest opportunity is that you die without doing so, something which is known as dying ‘intestate’. In this case, rather than your estate being divided in line with your wishes, it will be handed out according to strict rules. If you have just a spouse or civil partner then they will inherit all of your estate. If you have children as well then the spouse or civil partner will inherit the first £250,000 of your estate, plus all of your personal possessions. They will also receive half of anything which is left above £250,000, with the other half being divided equally between your children. The fact that you didn’t work with will writing solicitors in order to set out your wishes in a legally binding document is almost certain to cause a delay to your loved ones being able to access the estate you leave behind, and in some cases could greatly increase the amount of inheritance tax which has to be paid.
The risk inherent in writing your own will – using one of the many online tools available for example – is that a simple mistake on an issue such as how it is signed, witnessed or dated and changes which are made as the circumstances of your life change, could make the will susceptible to a legal challenge, delaying the process of dividing your estate and causing additional distress for your loved ones. When you work with one of our will writing solicitors, on the other hand, you can be certain that your will is 100% legally correct and therefore gives you the peace of mind of knowing exactly what will happen with your estate when you’re no longer around. As an added incentive, we offer a fixed fee will writing service, which means that you can work with our will writing solicitors free from the worry of legal costs rising out of control.
The first thing our will writing solicitors will do is advise you to list all of your assets and their most recent valuations. The assets in a list like this will include:
- Properties you own
- Insurance policies
- Investments like stocks and shares
- Personal belongings
The value of your estate will be calculated by deducting debts such as mortgages, loans and personal debts from the overall value of the assets, and since the value of assets such as property can fluctuate over time this overall valuation should be revised on a regular basis.
Our will writing solicitors will then help you to divide your estate. This could mean leaving individual items to specific people and then dividing what is left in percentage terms, between people such as a surviving spouse, children, grandchildren and any other individuals you choose. If you opt to leave anything to a charity or charities, our will writing solicitors will explain that each charity needs to be mentioned using the full name and address as well as the registered charity number.
We will also help you to choose an executor for your will – the person responsible for carrying out your instructions. As a benefactor can also be an executor, many people opt to name a spouse or child over the age of 18. Since it can be a complex task, however, involving dealing with issues such as the sale of property and the payment of inheritance tax, income tax and capital gains tax, some people prefer to name a professional such as a solicitor as an executor, sometimes working in partnership with a family member.
As can be seen, writing a will is more complex than many people suppose, and this is before technicalities such as witnesses, codicils and revoking any previous wills become involved. That’s why working with an expert will writing solicitors is the best means of being sure that every detail will be correct. If you’re worried about the cost of accessing expert legal advice then take advantage of one of Higgins Miller’s fixed fee wills. For any individual, we charge a fixed fee of just £150 to write a will and if – as is often the case – you wish to write a will as a couple, the overall fee for a joint will is just £210.
If you’d like to ask us anything about fixed fee wills or the services our will writing solicitors offer in general, 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.