Will & Probate | Jonathan Lea Network

What is a Will?

A Will is a legally binding document that ensures your assets are divided exactly as you wish when you pass away, and eases the task for those left behind. There is a common misconception that Wills
are reserved for those with significant assets to consider later in life. It is, however, incredibly beneficial to have a Will in place as early as possible, regardless of your financial
wealth or status.

If you do not have a Will in place, the law dictates who should inherit and how much they receive. This is known as “the rules of intestacy”. The law does not deal with personal items, funeral wishes or who looks after your minor children; and makes no provision for unmarried partners, step-relatives or friends.

If you were to pass without a Will it could have a significant impact on your family and what they may be entitled to inherit. There are rules and guidelines which need to be followed which will dictate how your assets will be allocated. This is likely to involve some distribution which would have been against your wishes, had you established this in a Will earlier.

Some family circumstances may also significantly benefit if a Will is in place. Unmarried partners for example, are unable to inherit from each other without one. If you have children, arrangements for their guardianship can also be dictated in the Will, otherwise it could mean the courts will take responsibility for them initially.

Having a Will in place could also make it possible to reduce the amount of tax liable, if your assets exceed the inheritance tax threshold.

What are the reasons for writing a Will?

  • Appoint an executor (the person who administers your estate)
  • Gift personal or sentimental items
  • Make provision for your pets
  • Appoint guardians for minor children
  • Protect unmarried partners
  • Protect children from previous relationships
  • Protect vulnerable or disabled beneficiaries
  • Ensure business continuity
  • Disinherit estranged relatives
  • Ensure your estate passes in a tax efficient manner

What is a simple Will?

This list is not intended to be exhaustive but sets out some client circumstances that fall within the definition of a simple Will.

  • Single or married persons who have not been married previously
  • Individuals or couples with no children from previous relationships
  • Individuals leaving no personal items or cash legacies; or a small number of items
  • Clients whose beneficiaries are not vulnerable or disabled
  • Clients who are UK domiciled, who do not own a business and who are not disinheriting anyone.

What is a complex or Trust Will?

This list is not intended to be exhaustive but sets out some client circumstances that fall within the definition of complex Wills.

  • Clients who are separated but not divorced, or with children from previous relationships
  • Individuals leaving a vast amount of personal items or cash legacies
  • Individuals with an estate worth more than £500,000
  • Couples with an estate worth more than £1,000,000
  • Clients disinheriting relatives such as spouses or children
  • Clients with beneficiaries at risk of bankruptcy or divorce, or who are spendthrifts
  • Clients with vulnerable or disabled beneficiaries.

What should I consider when making my Will?

Before starting the process, it is best to think about all of your assets. Write a list of everything that you own which could be encompassed in your Will. Once you have listed your items, think about all the people who you may want to benefit from your Will. These people will be called the beneficiaries. This could consist of simply relatives and friends, or you may also want to include a charity to benefit from your estate. The latter may also help to reduce the tax liability for your other beneficiaries.

Prior to your appointment, you may also like to consider who to appoint as your executor or executors. Your executors are responsible for, amongst other things, collecting in your assets and dividing out all of your assets as indicated in your Will to the beneficiaries that you selected. This is a significant role which holds a great amount of responsibility, so it is vital you choose someone who you trust and is willing to act in this way for you. It is advisable to appoint more
than one, just in case of death, incapacity or if they later refuse to execute. The most common number of executors is two however you may want to appoint up to four.

Will I need to change my Will?

The general guidance for reviewing a Will is every three to five years. This will make sure you are still happy that it is compatible with your wishes. If, however, you have experienced a major life
change it is advised that you review your Will straight away. Getting married, divorced, having children or if a beneficiary dies before you are all key reasons to review and amend your Will if required.

It is also a good idea to check if any changes are made to inheritance tax laws which might impact the amount of tax your beneficiaries are required to pay.

Why should I appoint a solicitor?

You could choose to write your own Will and as long as it is signed and witnessed correctly, it should be legally binding. However, it is very easy to make an error or mistake, the implications of which could prove very costly, time consuming or may even invalidate the Will.

If you would like to ensure that your wishes are executed the way you intend then it is best to
work with an experienced and trained professional to help write your Will.

At The Jonathan Lea Network, we offer a fixed fee service and give you invaluable advice; as we know that writing a Will should stand you in good stead for a long time after writing it.

We offer an initial no cost no obligation 20-minute video call to discuss your circumstances.

To book this please send an initial email to wewillhelp@jonathanlea.net (with a brief description of the matter) and one of our team will liaise with you to fix a time to speak to an appropriate specialist and send you a calendar invite accordingly.

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