Wills | LR Estate Planning Will Writing Experts

A will is the first line of defence in protecting your estate, and is an important document that states your wishes regarding how you would like your estate to be distributed upon death. There are many different types of wills and not all wills are equal. The type of will you require is often dependant on how you would like your estate to be distributed.

There are countless individuals and companies offering ‘free’ wills, low cost wills or ‘write your own will’ packages but these may not fully protect your estate and, in some cases, they may be classed as invalid, which will leave your estate up for grab. Therefore, it is important that you make sure you have a valid and legal will in place.

Wills now often have trusts within them in order to ringfence certain parts of your estate and further protect it. Increasingly, we are dealing with higher value estates compared to past years, so it has become even more important to have the most appropriate type of will in place to protect your legacy for your beneficiaries.

Make mindful that your loved ones are not at risk of becoming disinherited due to cohabiting, remarriage or a complex family situation. A trust can often help with inheritance tax (IHT) relief and other benefits taking the right steps to safeguard your estate.

One of the most important aspects of a will is to appoint an executor or executors to handle your affairs upon your death. These individuals have the legal power to execute your wishes the way you intended. They will be responsible for carrying out certain duties after your death and will ultimately deal with your estate. This is especially important if there is anyone to whom you wish to leave anything specific or if there are any children under the age of 18 who will benefit from your estate.

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What is a will?

A will is a legal document that declares what you would like to happen to your estate and belongings after your death.

Is a will legally valid?

A will is legally valid if it has been executed correctly.

How often should I review my will?

We advise that a will should be reviewed every five years or after any changes in your circumstances such as a birth of a new member of the family or changes in your financial situation.

Is my will still valid after my last marriage?

Divorce does not completely revoke a will but only causes a gift to the former spouse to lapse. Whilst this is often what is wanted, it may not be desired in every case. An appointment of the former spouse as executor is also automatically cancelled upon divorce.

Can I take someone out of my will after including them?

You can make changes to your will after you have written it, the legal term for this is a ‘codicil’, but if you are making considerable changes to the will, we advise you to write a new one as this keeps the will from having loopholes and becoming open to anybody looking to exploit you.

Can someone else alter my will after I die?

Your executor can make amendments to your will two years after you pass away, but all beneficiaries of the will must agree before any changes can ultimately be made.

Who will execute my will?

Whoever you choose to be the executor. This can be a close personal friend, family member or a professional executor such as LR Estate Planning adviser.

What makes a will legal and valid?

To make a valid will, you will need to be over the age of 18, be of sound mind and the will cannot be under influence or duress. It needs to be signed, dated and witnessed by two independent people who are not going to benefit from the will.

What should I do with my old will?

Ideally, you will need to destroy your old will once you have written the new will. This is very important because the old document will be superseded by the new will. Having more than one will can often cause confusion but the most recent signed will is the valid will.

Where should I store my will?

You should store your will in a safe and secure place. We always strongly advise taking advantage of our important documents storage service — an access-controlled offsite location in which your stored documents such as will and house deeds are kept safe and secure, and can be retrieved at any time.

Who should I tell about my will?

Only those who need to know about your will such as close members of family and those who will inherit from your estate. You should also notify professionals such as your financial adviser, accountant or solicitor.

When can a will be contested?

A will can be contested by anyone at any time, this is why it is of paramount importance that the will is valid and correct. If someone contests your will it is because they feel that they hold more of a right on your estate then you have deemed, and this is when it is important have your will written by a professional. Without having the correct evidence to back up your will and explain your reasoning, it can be open to contest. Once you pass on you will no longer be able to explain your reasoning, and this is where we often encourage you to write a legacy letter.

How many people should witness my will?

Two independent people are required to witness your will and ensure that it is valid. They must be over 18 and must not be people who will benefit from your will to avoid any conflicts of interest and to eliminate the possibility that the will has been written under duress or with nefarious influence. They also cannot be your partner.

When should I write my first will?

‘Wills are for old people’, is often the argument we hear, but you should write a will once you reach the age of 18 and it should be updated or rewritten when your circumstances change – for instance, if there is a significant change in your financial circumstances, or there is a new birth in the family.

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