No one wants to think about what would happen to our loved ones if we weren’t around, so it’s no surprise that the idea of making a Will more…
Making a Will
Our experienced team has a wealth of knowledge in preparing a range of Wills, from the most straightforward to those involving complex trusts.
As well as drafting new Wills, we can also review your existing Will to make sure it reflects your wishes, complies with legal requirements, and minimises potential tax liabilities.
The importance of making a Will should never be underestimated. As well as allowing you to choose who will receive your property, personal possessions, and other assets when you die, you can nominate an executor of your Will to deal with your estate, appoint guardians to care for your children, and specify your funeral arrangements.
By making a Will, you will also relieve your family of having to make important decisions at a stressful and distressing time for them.
Here to help
If you need to write or update your Will, or you would like some professional advice about dealing with the affairs of someone who has died, you can speak to our Wills and probate solicitors in Bristol. We’ll take time to listen to your circumstances, to help you compile a list of assets and liabilities, and to prepare a Will that is carefully conceived and legally compliant.
Why should you make a Will?
There are various reasons. Having a well-drafted Will in place is the only way to ensure that the things you own – your house, money, possessions, and other assets, known collectively as your ‘estate’ – will be passed to those you really care about. Be aware that any debts you own will need to be dealt with after you have died, too.
Knowing that you have a valid Will in place gives peace of mind that not only that you have put the right plans in place, but also that the difficult process of dealing with your possessions should be easier and far more straightforward for those you leave behind. In fact, clients whose Wills we have prepared tell us that they feel relieved to have got that aspect of their affairs in order.
What happens when a person dies without a Will?
Dying without having made a Will leads to far more uncertainty as far as the distribution of assets is concerned. Intestacy rules will apply, dictating the order in which those close to the person who has died should receive parts of their estate. So the real risk in not making a Will is that the intestacy rules will lead to an outcome that is different to the one you would have liked.
One other important point to bear in mind is that intestacy rules also apply where someone has made a Will but that Will doesn’t deal with all of their estate – a situation known as ‘partial intestacy’.
Who inherits without a Will?
The absence of a Will leads to the application of quite complex rules about who is entitled to what, and in what circumstances.
These intestacy rules entitle a spouse or a civil partner to inherit some of the assets of a person who has died, but there are specific rules about how much of the estate that person should receive. Relevant to this would be the value of the estate and whether or not there are any surviving children. There may also be restrictions on a person’s entitlement to inherit the family home, depending on the form of ownership of that property.
The intestacy rules are extensive and nuanced. And you should be aware that they do not entitle close friends, carers, partners who are not married or in a civil partnership, or relations by marriage, to inherit anything. It’s something to bear in mind if you haven’t yet made a Will.
If you are concerned about the way in which intestacy could affect your family, we’d recommend speaking with one of our Wills solicitors in Bristol. They will explain the rules and help you take the right steps towards protecting your loved ones’ future.
What does it take for a Will to be valid?
To be effective, a Will must be in writing and must be signed and witnessed. The person making the Will must also have been in sound mind at the time they made it, and must have understood the Will’s terms and effects.
Wills are sometimes challenged later on on the basis that they are invalid; in other words, where it’s alleged that there has been some sort of problem with the way in which the Will was entered into. A family member who has been left out of a Will, for example, might raise an argument that pressure had been put on the person making the Will to leave assets to others.
Where a Will is found to have been invalid the rules of intestacy will usually apply, although in some cases an earlier and probably out-of-date Will will be enforced instead. Either situation could lead to people other than those specified in your (invalid) Will benefitting from your estate.
Of course another problem with a Will that is, or is claimed to be, invalid is that this can cause tensions within families. In the most serious cases, rifts are irreparable.
How much does it cost to make a Will in the UK?
Most Wills solicitors offer a fixed fee service covering advice on what should be included in your Will, and the drafting of the Will itself. Contact a member of our Wills team in Bristol today for a quote for your work.
Are beneficiaries entitled to a copy of the Will?
The basic rule is that a Will is a private document that only becomes a public document – available for anyone to see – once a grant of probate is made. A grant of probate is the official legal confirmation that the executor of a Will has the authority to deal with the estate.
While the Will remains private, there is no specific right for a beneficiary to see it. However, we would always advise a beneficiary to ask the executor for a copy.
What happens if you die without a Will and with no family?
Your estate will pass as ‘ownerless property’ to the Crown. It will then be up to the Treasury Solicitor to administer it.
In this situation, people may choose to lay claim to a part of your estate by bringing legal action.
What is an intestate succession?
Intestate succession is the name given to a situation in which a person dies without having made a valid Will and where the law steps in to enable the estate to be distributed. Testate succession, on the other hand, is the far more straightforward process where beneficiaries receive the estate under the terms of a Will.
If you would like to discuss your personal circumstances – whether to do with your own Will, or the Will of someone else – contact one of our Wills solicitors in Bristol today on 0117 325 2929. Alternatively, complete our online enquiry form and a member of our team will get back to you straightaway.