Wills FAQs

Why make a Will?

If someone dies without having left a Will, they are said to die intestate. The consequence of this is that everything they own, all their property, investments and savings, will pass to their relatives in an order of priority which is specified in the Administration of Estates Act 1925 and very possibly this is not what the deceased would have wanted at all.

For example, if a married man with children (no matter how old they are) dies intestate, and he leaves more than £250,000 then his widow will have to share part of the Estate with their children. This might be entirely impractical, especially if the estate includes the matrimonial home or a business. It does not take very much time or effort to make a Will, and it is reasonably inexpensive, and by making a Will you can make sure that your affairs are dealt with as you would want them to be dealt with and you will be minimising the upset and distress to your loved ones. It can of course be difficult to consider your own mortality, but making a Will never killed anybody.

Is it possible to make a do-it-yourself Will?

Yes, but it probably is not sensible. There are various technical aspects to making a Will which must be observed if it is to have force and validity. Many so called home-made Wills fail to make the grade with the consequence that the deceased is treated as having died without a Will and all his wishes fail to take effect. Even if the home-made Will is valid, the wishes which are expressed are often ambiguous and the Estate risks incurring a substantial bill in trying to sort matters out.

Please do use a Solicitor for the preparation of your Will, and you can then be sure that everything is done correctly and properly. Making a Will with a Solicitor is not an expensive business at all.

Is there any other reason why I should make a Will?

If you have children who are under the age of 18 years, then your Will can appoint guardians; the people who will look after your children if both their parents should die. This of course is very important. Beyond that, a Will provides a good opportunity for avoiding or minimising the liability of an Estate to pay Inheritance Tax.

If you happen to have property and savings which amount to more than the tax threshold and at a flat rate of 40% Inheritance Tax can prove expensive. You can also use a Will to set out your wishes and directions for your funeral and to say whether your preference is for burial or cremation.

By making a Will, will my family avoid having to apply for Probate?

The short answer is no. When someone dies, their Will will often have to go to Probate. This is a procedure whereby the Executors of the Will apply for a Court Order, which is called Probate, and that Order confirms the validity of the Will and the appointment of the Executors. This helps Banks, Insurance Companies and others to be sure that the funds they are holding for the deceased are paid out to the right people. After all a Bank would not want to pay the balance on the deceased’s Account to Executors of an old or invalid Will because it would still remain liable to pay the real Executors. Someone might make several Wills in their lifetime each one cancelling the earlier ones.

What is a Living Will or Advance Health Directive?

This is document which, signed and witnessed, sets out your wishes for your health care and end of life treatment if in future you are unable to give directions.