It goes without saying that everyone should have a will. A will ensures that your surviving relatives and friends benefit from your estate in the manner that you choose. Without one there is no guarantee that your loved ones will be provided for in the way you would want. It’s particularly important if you have children, if you have your own savings or investments, or if you own a business or property. There are many cheap will-making options available nowadays, ranging from free online facilities to budget options from national retailers like WH Smith’s to services from high street solicitors providing a basic off-the-peg product.
Only the advice of a professional who can structure a will to suit your exact needs can ensure that your particular set of circumstances is correctly accounted for.
While it can be tempting to dip into the DIY market or take the opportunity to cut down on costs with one of the cheaper options available, you should carefully consider your requirements before taking this approach. Only the advice of a professional who can structure a will to suit your exact needs can ensure that your particular set of circumstances is correctly accounted for.
Here are ten reasons why you should use a solicitor to make your will:
1. Inheritance Tax Planning
If the value of your estate is over £325,000 it may be subject to inheritance tax when you die. Following the introduction by the government of the new Residence Nil Rate Band, depending on your particular circumstances, you may be able to leave up to £1million tax-free from 2020.
If your estate is potentially subject to inheritance tax, it is important that your will is drafted so that it’s efficient for inheritance tax purposes and takes advantage of all the available inheritance tax exemptions and reliefs. This wouldn’t be possible with a DIY will-writing option.
2. Creating a Trust
Including a trust in your will (rather than leaving your estate to your heirs outright) can help to ensure that your assets are protected if any of your beneficiaries are experiencing financial or matrimonial difficulties. For example, if you left everything to a son or daughter who was going through a divorce, when you died that inheritance could form part of that child’s estate for the purposes of the divorce. Leaving your assets in trust offers more flexibility and allows the funds to remain in trust until the divorce is complete or, in the case of bankruptcy, until the financial difficulties have been resolved.
3. Giving to Children Under 18
If you leave something to your children or grandchildren and they are under 18 when you die, most online services would simply create a will which would gift everything to the child on the day they turn 18. You may have a significant estate or feel that they may not be mature enough at 18 to take on such a level of financial responsibility. If so, we can structure your will to make sure that your estate is passed on in a more protected way. For instance, this could mean the child receiving their inheritance when they are older or at the discretion of a chosen set of trustees, who would usually be relatives, friends or professionals you can trust.
4. Children from a Former Relationship
If you have children from a former relationship, we can draft your Will to ensure that your children will be looked after whatever situation arises in subsequent marriages. If you are married, a basic will would usually leave everything to your surviving spouse when you have died. If you have children from a former relationship, this might put the inheritance of these children at risk as your existing spouse will be free to restructure his or her will as they see fit, which might divert the inheritance away from your children. We can help structure a will to ensure that whilst your existing spouse is provided for, your children will also receive the intended benefits of your estate.
5. Best Arrangements for Disabled Beneficiaries
If you have a child or grandchild with disability, you will be keen to ensure that your will is structured to ensure that they are provided for, but that any benefits they are currently receiving are not affected. We can advise you on the most effective way to structure your will to ensure that it doesn’t jeopardise their existing benefit entitlements.
6. Dealing with Business Assets
If you own a business, we can structure your will to make sure your business assets are passed on effectively. We have the capacity and expertise to do this at Progeny Private Law and given the unique nature of the Progeny Group, which brings together a combination of wealth management and legal advice for private clients and corporates, Progeny Corporate Law are able to provide any additional corporate law advice that may be required.
We will gather all the relevant information about your circumstances and offer you the advice that we believe best meets your needs while taking account of your broader life requirements.
7. Overseas Assets
If you own a property or assets abroad, a simple or online will is unlikely to cover these. We can offer specialist advice to ensure that your overseas assets are dealt with effectively and in line with the laws of the country in which they are situated.
It’s a simple point, but making sure your will has been signed correctly is crucial. If it isn’t signed correctly then it will be invalid. In our experience, this is a particular problem with DIY packages where wills have been printed off after being purchased online, but signed incorrectly, meaning no valid will is in place.
At Progeny Private Law our clients have peace of mind that their wills and legal documents are stored in our secure facility free of charge.
10. The Bigger Picture
One of the elements of our service that we’re most proud of at Progeny Private Law is the fact that if you come to see us about your will, you can be sure we won’t just consider the will in isolation. We believe that the difference between a good solicitor and a not-so-good one is the same as the difference between taking instructions and giving advice. We will do more than simply take instructions and produce a basic will. We will gather all the relevant information about your circumstances and offer you the advice that we believe best meets your needs while taking account of your broader life requirements. This might also include guidance on areas like power of attorney, life assurance, or pensions. Our aim is to cater to the specific needs of our clients and to deliver a personal and bespoke service to match their individual demands.
In the coming months, we’ll be dedicating a full blog article each to a number of the above listed points to explore them in greater detail. In the meantime, if you would like advice on making or structuring your will, or on any other personal legal matters, please get in touch.
The content of this article is for information only and is not intended to be construed as legal advice and should not be treated as a substitute for specific advice. Progeny Private Law Ltd accepts no responsibility for the content of any third-party website to which this article refers.