Should You Make a Will?
If you have been putting off making your Will you are not alone. Making your Will is not something you have to do. However, it is often the case that making your Will can give you peace of mind, knowing you have put your affairs in order and minimised the potential for disputes between family members.
A will is a written document which sets out what you would like to happen to your possessions when you die. It must be signed and witnessed by two people. If you die without leaving a will, you are said to die intestate and your estate will be distributed according to the law on succession, essentially meaning that it will be distributed between your surviving family members. Therefore, if you want to control who inherits all or part of your estate, it is best to make a will.
Your solicitor can advise you about your will and can make sure that your will is legally valid. Your convenience is important to us and we aim to minimise the amount of time you have to spend on the Wills process. We offer video calls to save you from travelling to meet us and you can meet us at times convenient to you. When your Will needs to be signed we can come to meet you at your home or at our office.
How Do You Make a Valid Will?
It is important that your solicitor has a detailed conversation with you to discover what you need. Solicitors who specialise in Wills are members of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) which is a worldwide organisation for solicitors with recognised qualifications to specialise in the area of Will drafting to incorporate tax advice. Our aim for your will is to minimise any disputes that could arise after you are gone and to ensure that your Will is drafted in a tax-efficient manner to maximise what you leave to your chosen beneficiaries.
A Will can only be valid if:
- It is in writing
- You are over 18 or married
- You are of sound mind (have the mental capacity to do so, in that you understand what you are doing)
- You sign or mark the will, or direct someone to sign it for you if you are unable to do so
- Two witnesses sign the will in your presence
- The signature or mark is located at the end of the will
If you want to change your will after you make it, you can add a codicil to it but this codicil must meet the same requirements outlined above.
One of the best things I experienced was the personal touch. It can be daunting dealing with solicitors and I never felt like a hindrance. Gary was always available on the phone and email for me and always responded very quickly. I know of an elderly person dealing with Gary who really appreciated being able to meet face to face in a place where she felt comfortable. I think both types of meetings are great as clients have various needs which were met very easily in the way SOS operates.
SOS legal provided a very helpful service putting together my will during lockdown. Gary was professional throughout, and made the process so simple and convenient through the use of remote video conferencing
What we found best was the professionalism of the service overall, the confidentiality, empathy and understanding. Communication was always clear in both e-mail and in person. Response times to e-mails, and meetings, was very good. I believe your fees are very competitive, and good value for your service.
Other Tips for Making a Will
Other key points to note when making a will are:
- It is important to note that gifts left to a witness or their spouse or civil partner are invalid.
- If you are acting under pressure from another person when making your will, you are acting under undue influence and your will can be challenged.
- Your spouse or civil partner are entitled to benefit from your will, even if you do not provide for them in your will. If there are no children, a surviving spouse has a right to half the estate, including the family home. If there are children, he or she has a right to one third of the estate. Your children also may have entitlements. If a testator has disposed of property within three years of death in an attempt to disinherit a spouse or children, the court may rule the disposition void.
- Succession rights noted above are automatically usually extinguished after a divorce.
- If you have property in other countries, it is advisable to make a will in each of those countries due to potential differences in succession law. However, under EU Regulation 650/2012 on matters of succession (Brussels IV), if you have property in another EU member state, with the exception of Denmark, you can direct in your will that the law of your nationality should apply to the property.
- Gifts and beneficiaries must be clearly identified to avoid confusion and you should ensure that possessions that you want to leave to someone still exist at the time of your death.
- If you have a joint bank account with your spouse, civil partner or child usually the surviving account holder will be fully entitled to the money in the account when you die.
- If the will is in a foreign language, a translation may be admitted to proof.
If there is a disagreement about a will it may need to be settled in court. The court will give effect to the testator’s wishes as expressed in the will if possible. We will advise and help you if such an event occurs.
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