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Making a Will? FAQs.
Anthony Weber, Partner at Coles Miller Solicitors LLP, answers some of the most common questions about preparing your Will.
If you do not have a Will, your wishes may not be carried out and loved ones and charities that you care about may not receive what you wish from your Estate.
Fees vary from solicitor to solicitor, generally starting at around £175 + VAT for a standard Will;
the British Liver Trust has some free and discounted offers for supporters, which can be seen at
the website www.britishlivertrust.org.uk.
No one can predict the future. It takes a small amount of time and effort to make a Will, and lets your loved ones avoid a lot of expense and heartache later on. Without a Will, the fate of your assets is out of your hands. An unmarried partner, for example, may not inherit anything, which may come as a shock and cause financial hardship. Don’t leave your loved ones in a vulnerable position – once you have prepared your Will, you will have peace of mind that those closest to you will be looked after and any charities you wish to include will be supported.
Firstly, it is important to appoint at least one guardian for any child who is currently under the age of 18. This appointment grants the guardian the right to be involved in decisions about the child’s health, welfare and education. Secondly, if your children are to receive a share of your estate, general law prevents a child from inheriting before the age of 18. Many parents prefer to postpone to their 21st or even 25th birthday; in the meantime the Executors and Trustees you have appointed will be responsible for managing and investing the estate until your children reach the age you have chosen.
It is vital that he person you choose to act as Executor or Trustee of your Will is someone who you trust absolutely to ensure your wishes are complied with. There is no reason you cannot appoint someone who is a beneficiary of your Will, though some people prefer to appoint a firm of solicitors to act as this ensures the estate is administered fairly, promptly and properly. Appointing a solicitor as your Executor will reduce the risk of any mistakes or losses, and the solicitor will have insurance, in the unlikely event that such a loss occurs.
Your Will is only your last Will until you make a new one to replace it. If you are not sure if your Will still works in your current circumstances the best advice is to speak to a solicitor (most solicitors will not charge for such a meeting).
Personal and financial circumstances change, as does tax law and inheritance law. You should review your Will every 5 years (or sooner if your circumstances change dramatically) to ensure it still reflects your wishes, protecting your family and any charitable gifts. Most solicitors will offer a free short review meeting, where they will advise if any changes are needed, and what the costs will be.
The act of marriage or entering a civil partnership revokes (cancels) a Will made before the event, but you can prepare a Will ‘in contemplation’ of the event, and provide the Will expressly declares it is not to be revoked by the marriage/civil partnership to a specific person; it will remain valid after the ceremony. So there is no need to put off making a Will until afterwards.
All gifts in your Will can be a specific amount or a percentage of your estate, and charitable gifts
are the same. 1% to a charity would leave 99% for your loved ones, and the amount will hold its value over time.
Your solicitor will know the wording to use, but here is an example: “I leave to (CHARITY NAME) of (CHARITY ADDRESS) Charity Registration Number: (xxxxxxx) x% (of my estate) for its general
purposes and I direct that the receipt of the Treasurer or other duly authorised officer of the charity shall be a sufficient discharge to my executors.”
For further information on leaving a gift in your will to charity, visit www.rememberacharity.org.uk
Unlike marriage or civil partnership, a divorce (i.e. Decree Absolute) does not cancel a Will. The Will remains valid and the divorce/dissolution merely removes your Ex as a beneficiary and
Executor, so your Estate will be distributed as if they had died during your lifetime. However, until the divorce has been finalised, your spouse/civil partner will remain entitled to share in your estate
either under your Will or ender intestacy rules. In order to ensure your wishes are carried out, you are strongly advised to update your Will as soon as you start divorce/dissolution proceedings.
In certain circumstances it may be possible to use your Will to minimise the charge to Inheritance Tax. It is best to seek advice from a solicitor on current rates and how best to manage this aspect of your Estate.
This Frequently Asked Questions guide has been produced for the British Liver Trust in partnership with Coles Miller Solicitors LLP Wills and Probate team. You should always seek professional advice when making or updating your Will.
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My family and I have supported the British Liver Trust for many years, and we continue to do so, because of the invaluable work it does to find cures for a range of liver diseases, as well as raising awareness about liver disease and health to the wider public.
I would love to see a cure for Autoimmune Hepatitis (AIH) in my life time and the cause to be understood. But if that doesn’t happen, then at least my legacy can go towards that, so that people in the future affected by AIH can.