If you aren’t a Cheshire Will solicitor you may not know where to start with making your Will. In this blog we look at how to make a Will, something that we should all do to protect our loved ones.
It is easy to keep putting off making a Will because you have too much to do or you aren’t sure what to put in your Will but a Will is something that we should all have. Covid-19 has emphasised the need to make a Will although some people believe it isn’t possible to make a Will if you can’t see a solicitor because of lockdown or the Covid-19 tier system. Most private client solicitors are working remotely so if you do want a Will writing for you then coronavirus shouldn’t put you off as your Will instructions can be taken over the phone or by skype to ensure that you have an up to date Will that reflects your wishes.
Covid-19 – can I still make a Will?
Nowadays Covid-19 comes into most conversations and it is no different when private client Will solicitors are asked questions about making a Will. Many people assume that if they are shielding or social distancing that they’ll have to wait to make or change their Will but that certainly isn’t the case. If you are not comfortable with an office appointment then the Will solicitors at Evolve Family Law can arrange either a telephone or video appointment, whatever suits you best.
During any remote appointment our Will solicitors take the same care and pay the same attention to detail to make sure that you understand your Will options and ensure that your Will leaves your estate to your loved ones.
You may also be concerned about how your Will can be completed if you are trying to maintain social distancing or comply with government regulations. We can talk you through how your Will can be executed, including the option of having your Will witnessed remotely. That’s because the government has authorised the remote witnessing of Wills on a temporary basis and provided safeguards are met.
What do I need to make a Will?
You don’t need anything to take the first step of making a Will as a Will solicitor can either talk you through the information they need to prepare the Will for you or alternatively, if you prefer, they can send you a Will questionnaire for you to complete.
The main things that a Will solicitor needs to know in order to advise you on your Will and prepare it for you are:
- Roughly how much is your estate worth – you don’t need to get anything valued as all your Will solicitor needs is a very approximate ball park figure so they know if inheritance tax will be relevant to your estate
- Whether all of your assets are in the UK – if you own property overseas then you may need another Will to cover your overseas based property
- Whether any of your assets are jointly owned – if you own property jointly, for example, with a wife, husband or civil partner, then your share in the property may pass outside of your Will unless you sever the joint tenancy
- Whether you have any dependants – a dependant could be a former husband or wife who is receiving spousal maintenance from you, a child receiving child support, an adult child who is financially reliant on you or your cohabitee or partner. Whilst you can leave your estate to who you want as there is no legal requirement to leave all or a share of your estate to your dependants or family members, a Will solicitor can advise you on the prospects of a dependant trying to contest your Will and how to reduce the risk that your Will might be contested
- Whether you have any children or planned beneficiaries under the age of eighteen – if you do then you may want to consider the appointment of testamentary guardians in your Will for your children. You will also need to consider leaving money in trust for your children or minor beneficiaries
- The planned executors of your Will and beneficiaries- if you haven’t made any final decisions about your choice of executors (the people named in your Will as responsible for administering and distributing your estate) then don’t worry as your Will solicitor can discuss your options, including the appointment of family members, your solicitor or another professional as executor. When it comes to beneficiaries your Will solicitor can talk you through your options and make sure that your Will is as ‘future proofed’ as possible so that if ,for example, you want to leave all your estate to your husband or wife or a share of your estate to an older sibling there are ‘substitution gifts’ in your Will. That means that if your spouse predeceases you their legacy is shared, for example, between your children or in the case of your sibling between your nephews and nieces. Alternatively the gift can fall back into your estate and form part of the legacy to your residuary beneficiary or beneficiaries.
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When to make a Will
Will solicitors say that it is never too early to make a Will or, if you have an existing Will, it is equally important to make sure that the Will is up to date and still reflects your wishes.
At any important life event you should consider making or changing your Will. Life events include:
- Buying your first house – whether on your own or jointly with a partner
- When you get engaged to marry or enter a civil partnership
- When you sign a prenuptial agreement
- When you have children or adopt
- If you separate or divorce from a husband, wife or partner
- If you form a new relationship or remarry
- If you suffer ill health
- On retirement
- If you receive a legacy or inheritance.
There are many other scenarios when you should consider making or changing your Will, such as the death of a beneficiary or an executor to your Will. Making a Will can be a very positive experience for you because:
- It makes you feel that you have taken steps to protect family members and loved ones
- You can say who you would like to administer your estate through the appointment of executors of your Will
- You can safeguard young children with the appointment of a testamentary guardian
- You can use your Will and estate planning to minimise your estate’s liability to inheritance tax.
How to make a Will
The easiest way to make a Will or to change an existing Will is to speak to an experienced private client and Will solicitor. They can look at your goals and objectives and work out how best to achieve them. This may include:
- Lifetime gifting
- Inheritance tax planning
- Lifetime trusts
- Trusts created in your Will and the flexibility and guidance issued to your trustees with discretionary trusts
- The structure of legacies and the disposal of your residuary estate
- Contingency legacies so, for example, a grandchild or children, will receive a legacy instead of their parent if their parent sadly passes away before you do so. Carefully drafted contingency legacies means that your Will doesn’t have to keep being rewritten on the birth of a new grandchild
- How to try and ensure that the Will isn’t challenged or contested by a dependant leading to litigation against your estate. This can be achieved by carefully assessing what, if any, dependency claims can be brought against your estate and how to minimise the risk of a successful claim.
How long does it take to make a Will?
The role of a private client and Will solicitor is to make the Will process as simple for you as possible. It is possible to make a Will in a matter of hours but you may, depending on your family circumstances, want to reflect on private client and Will advice before finalising your Will.
Your Will isn’t effective until it is executed. That involves your signing your Will witnessed by two witnesses. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic the government has temporarily relaxed the rules on witnessing Wills and now allows for a Will to be remotely witnessed to ensure that you can still execute a Will whether or not you are in a Covid-19 related lockdown.
The best way to make a Will is to take the step of picking up the phone and speaking to a friendly and approachable private client and Will solicitor about your options so that you can achieve a well drafted Will that protects your family and gives you peace of mind.
We are Cheshire private client and Will solicitors
For assistance making or changing your Will or estate planning call Chris Strogen at Evolve Family Law or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law has offices in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire and Whitefield, Manchester but an appointment at the office isn’t needed to make a Will as Evolve Family Law offers remote meetings by either telephone or video call appointment.