Not just a will
There are loads of firms offering will writing services over the internet or home visits. You may think it is just a will and any firm will do. The reality is most of us need expert will legal advice to ensure our will reflects our wishes, is validly executed, is as future proof as possible, is inheritance tax efficient with an element of estate planning, and protects our loved ones from potential claims against the estate and inheritance disputes. For those reasons it isn’t ‘just a will’ and it should be prepared by a solicitor who has the expertise to guide you about your will options.
Will legal experts
Will solicitor, Chris Strogen, is an expert in wills and estate planning. He works with the family law solicitors at Evolve Family Law to create bespoke wills and powers of attorney, after listening to what you want to achieve and why. It is listening that is so important, combined with legal expertise in will writing, to make sure your will is fit for purpose and protects your loved ones.
Peace of mind and protection with a personal touch
Everyone should make a will to give themselves peace of mind and to protect their loved ones. Making or changing your will and estate planning is especially important when your family circumstances are changing; whether that is living together in a cohabiting relationship, getting married, signing a prenuptial agreement, having children, surrogacy arrangements, separation or divorce. Families are both unique and complicated. That’s why you and your loved ones need will protection delivered with a personal touch, so you know your will is as bespoke and individual as your own family circumstances.
Why choose the will and estate planning solicitors at Evolve Family Law?
Louise Halford and Robin Charrot founded Evolve Family Law. They are expert family law solicitors committed to helping people move on with their lives after separation and divorce and helping plan for other important family life events, such as marriage, the birth of a child, the arrival of a child through surrogacy, second marriages and step-children and all the other ways our family lives can move on. Just as important as family law advice is expert will and estate planning legal advice to protect and safeguard your family. Will solicitor, Chris Strogen gives easy to understand the specialist will and estate planning legal advice delivered with a personal touch, tailored to your circumstances.
Wills and Estate Planning– Your Questions Answered
Why make a will? Don’t intestacy rules say who the money goes to?
If you don’t have a will your assets pass under intestacy rules, dying intestate means you don’t get a say over who your estate goes to and it is more likely family members will fall out about the financial provision under the intestacy rules. If you make a will, you decide who gets your money and you can put conditions on gifts. For example, that a child should only get their inheritance when they are 21 or 25. You can decide who should administer your estate by appointing executors and trustees in your will and giving powers to advance money to your children. For example, trustees to advance money to pay university fees or to provide a deposit on a first house. In some family scenarios dying without a will doesn’t cause lots of additional complications for those left behind but in some family situations it does, such as:
- Unmarried partners and families
- Where you have been married more than once
- If you have young children who need legal protection by the appointment of a testamentary guardian in the will
- If you are a business owner.
Most of us understand the need to sort out insurance cover for loved ones and preparing a will should be on the same to-do list, as one of life’s essentials.
I have a will, why does it need updating because of my marriage?
A will needs to be updated when you marry because any existing will you may have is automatically revoked. That means if you die your estate passes under intestacy rules. Those rules may produce a very unfair result of a legal dispute between relatives over who should get what. It is therefore vital that you make a new will when you get married or you should express your will as being made in contemplation of your planned marriage.
I have a will but I am getting divorced. Is the will valid?
When you get your decree absolute of divorce or final Order in the dissolution of civil partnership proceedings, any provision in your will for your former spouse or civil partner ceases to have an effect. That may not be appropriate or you may want to change other aspects of your will in light of your divorce or dissolution.
I own a property with my partner. Do I need a will?
If you jointly own a house as ‘joint tenants’ the surviving partner will automatically inherit the property as your share in the home will pass to the surviving co-owner. However, lots of co-owners decide to jointly buy houses as tenants in common. This type of joint ownership means your share of the property passes by your will (or under intestacy rules if you don’t make a will). It is always important to check how you jointly own a house when preparing a will. It is equally important to check out what you own. People forget about life insurance or pension provisions. Sometimes these assets pass by nomination (if accepted by the trustees) and in other situations, the assets will form part of your estate. That is one of the reasons why it is important to get specialist legal advice from a will and estate planning solicitor.
I don’t know how to start estate planning
It is not unusual to not know how you want to leave things to family and friends or to worry about the provisions in your will becoming public knowledge. Our lives can be very complicated with former spouses and partners, current partners and spouses as well as children and stepchildren and, in the fullness of time, children’s partners and grandchildren. If you are uncertain about how you want to leave your estate you can put all or some of your estate into a trust created in your will. After your death, trustees appointed in your will can decide how much and when your beneficiaries should receive money. This type of discretionary trust gives lots of flexibility to cover changes. Your trustees can be guided by your preparing a separate document known as a letter of wishes setting out how you want the trustees to exercise their discretion and hand out money. Trusts give a degree of privacy and flexibility. Often, even if personal affairs aren’t complicated, people create a trust in their will because it avoids the need to keep changing the will as they can just update their letter of wishes.
I want to give money to one child but I don’t want lifetime gifting to affect my other children
Many parents want to help their child buy a house or parents feel the need to provide financial help to their adult child after a messy divorce. Alternatively, you may want to advance money to grandchildren so that they can clear student debt. It is possible (and potentially inheritance tax-efficient) to give money to relatives whilst you are alive. The gift can be taken into account in any eventual legacy so that one child or grandchild doesn’t get more than the rest of the family. There are lots of ways in which family members can be helped out, such as a loan, lifetime gifting or an advance from a trust. An expert will solicitor works with your professional advisors to look at your best options to balance the family needs, any inheritance tax mitigation concerns and any worries about any gifted money being claimed by your child’s spouse in divorce proceedings.
Can I write my own will?
Yes, you can write your own will but an expert will solicitor would not recommend doing so. That’s because wills are tricky legal documents. The consequences of getting the will wrong can be expensive for your family and add to the risk that someone might challenge your will and make a claim against the estate.
Can my will be challenged?
A will can be challenged and that is why we recommend that you take expert legal advice from a will and estate planning solicitor to make sure your will is as effective as possible and you get advice on potential inheritance disputes and how to deal with them. The cost of challenging a will through Court proceedings is high so it is vital that you get specialist will and estate planning legal advice to make sure your will is fit for purpose and that it is reviewed when significant life events occur.