We look at why it is advisable for most people to have a Will and reveal that it is not as expensive as many think.
People often think they don’t need to have a Will or are put off making one by the perceived costs of doing so.
But trying to save a relatively small sum of money by not making a Will or using one of the DIY kits available from the newsagent can be a false economy.
Avoid the Intestacy Rules
If you don’t make a Will then your assets may not end up where you think they will. Often we see clients with no children who think if they die intestate (without a Will) then their assets will automatically go to charity. They are dismayed to find that the Law will attempt to locate distant family members who will benefit in these circumstances. Some of these family members may be unknown to them.
As well as specifying who should receive your assets when you pass away, you can also nominate your executors and, more importantly, if you have young children, you can and should appoint guardians for them.
If you die intestate, your net estate (after expenses and costs) will be distributed between legally defined beneficiaries.
If you have a professionally drafted Will, you can nominate friends, family and charities to receive fixed sums, called legacies. Once paid, what is left over, the ‘residue’ as lawyers call it, is distributed in accordance with your instructions. You can also create trusts to protect vulnerable beneficiaries, such as young or disabled children.
Inheritance Tax Savings
There are other benefits. A professionally drawn Will can help with your Inheritance Tax (IHT) liability. IHT is currently (April 2020) 40% and is charged on the part of your estate that is above the taxable threshold. The IHT threshold (sometimes call the Nil Rate Band) varies and is currently £325,000. This can be moire if you’re widowed or a surviving civil partner. In addition, couples can transfer any unused allowance when the first person dies to the survivor. This can result in the threshold being increased up to £650.000.
Wills can also be used to help safeguard property and assets in the event that the survivor of a married couple needs residential care in the future.
Each case is unique, and our specialist lawyers can advise you on what will be best in your particular circumstances.
Beware unqualified Will writers
Unqualified and unregulated ‘Will writers’ are attempting to cash in on this area of the law and their adverts are now widespread. A few provide a reasonable service, but they are not necessarily any cheaper than a regulated firm of solicitors. However, some are unable to answer even the most basic technical questions and many have absolutely no legal qualifications. Many simply pay for a franchise and are provided with a few precedents and left to fill in the blanks.
Their initial quotes are often very low in order to entice the client in, but later you will find additional charges being made for so-called ‘extras’ such as storage, which solicitors like Slee Blackwell provide for free. We know of some organisations charging as much as £5 a month to store a Will!
Many do not belong to a regulatory body or indeed carry any indemnity insurance. This is highly relevant as it means that if they make a mistake compensation may not be recoverable.
If they do make a mistake then solicitors like us get called in to sort out the problems after the client’s death, which of course incurs unnecessary legal costs. We have a large ‘contentious probate‘ department who are kept very busy sorting out the problems that arise when inadequate testamentary provisions are made.
And given the relatively inexpensive cost of making a Will through a firm of solicitors, there really is no need to take unnecessary risks – especially when so much is riding on it.
We are always happy to provide a fixed fee quote for preparing a Will and its usually cheaper than most people think.
Please contact your nearest office for an informal chat and to make an appointment.
Barnstaple: 01271 372 128 – Toni Sinclair
Bideford: 01237 427 924 – Emma Napper
Braunton: 01271 812 019 – Vanessa Swales
South Molton: 01769 573 771 – Brett Lawrence
Taunton: 01823 354545 – Chris Holten
Alternatively, simply send an email to us at [email protected]