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What is a Will?

A will is a legally binding document which can be written to express your wishes upon your death. Traditionally, a Will gives details about your burial wishes, but can extend to personal belongings and your assets. You can document your wishes for who you would like to receive these after you die.

Why should I have a Will?

Primarily, having a Will gives you the peace of mind that your wishes in life are known when you die. Having a Will will allow your family to accurately distribute your estate following your death and eliminate any doubt over your wishes. Having a written record of your wishes will also reduce the likelihood of internal family conflict regarding the family home, sorting belongings, what to keep and what to give away and money. You can also ensure your surviving spouse can continue to live in your family home.

What happens if I die, and we’re not married?

Although the terms common-law wife or husband are frequently used to describe a couple who live together, these relationships do not have legal recognition. As such If one partner dies without leaving a will, the surviving partner will not automatically inherit anything unless the couple owned property jointly and that is recorded in a specific way. As an unmarried couple, you need to make wills if you wish to make sure that the other partner inherits.

Can I write my own Will?

Yes, as long as it was properly signed and witnessed by two adult independent witnesses who are present at the time you sign your will, it should be legally binding. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Using the wrong wording could mean that your instructions aren’t followed, or even that your will isn’t valid. It is also important to list everything that is important to you and to correctly divide them amongst the people you want.

I’m getting married, do I need to update my will?

Yes, marriage automatically revokes a will made previously, leaving it invalid. This means that, as things currently stand, you do not have a valid will and so your estate will be dealt with under the rules of intestacy. This states that, depending on the size of your estate, your spouse will receive up to £250,000, with the rest split between your spouse in trust and any children you have. If you do not have any children, your spouse will receive up to £450,000 and your siblings will receive the rest.

I’m getting divorced, do I need to update my will?

Yes, it is best to make a new will immediately after your divorce, especially if your spouse or civil partner was a beneficiary or a trustee. I’m getting divorced, do I need to update my will? Therefore, your will does not become invalid at divorce. You can then make a new will at any time after separation but before divorce so that this situation does not occur. You do not have to wait for the divorce to be complete.

How often do I need to review my Will?

You should review your will every 3 years and after any major change in your life. A major change can be getting separated, divorced, getting married, having a child or even moving to a new home. Unfortunately, you can’t amend your will after it’s been signed and witnessed. The only way you can change a will is by making an official alteration called a codicil.

How can I leave everything for my spouse when I die?

To achieve maximum protection, you should ensure that any joint property is held as tenants in common so that your share passes according to the terms of your will. The easiest way to achieve your aims is through the use of protective and flexible trust structures incorporated into your wills.

How does a family trust work?

A trust is a way of managing assets (money, investments, land or buildings) for people. There are different types of trusts and they are taxed differently. Trusts involve:

  • the ‘settlor’ – the person who puts assets into a trust
  • the ‘trustee’ – the person who manages the trust
  • the ‘beneficiary’ – the person who benefits from the trust

What are the benefits of a family trust?

A trust is a useful asset protection mechanism and can be used in a number of ways, the most common uses are: 1. Protecting your family finances against divorce 2. to apply assets to look after family members who are too young to manage their own financial affairs or who are incapable of looking after themselves; 3. in family businesses whereby, shares are often put in trust to keep the business stable in the event of a family member’s death.

Why use a family trust?

The Trust could save your estate tens of thousands of pounds, which can then go to your beneficiaries rather than being spent on care fees. Average care fees could be £30,000 per year if you are single, and up to £60,000 if you are a couple. The Trust takes very little time and a relatively small initial cost to set up and has the potential to negate the need to pay for care fees.

Who are the trustees of a family trust?

A trustee is a person who takes responsibility for managing money or assets that have been set aside in a trust for the benefit of someone else. As a trustee, you must use the money or assets in the trust only for the beneficiary’s benefit. Everything you do as a trustee must be done in the beneficiary’s best interests. Exactly what you can and can’t do as a trustee might be set out in detail in the trust agreement.

I've set up a trust, now what?

What happens after we have set up your trust?