If you pass away without a will then your estate will be subject to the laws of intestacy and could result in your assets being passed to someone that you didn’t intend. The only way legally to direct who should receive your property and assets when you die is to make a legally binding will. There is little any of us can do to see into the future but by making a will you can have some control over what happens to your estate when you pass away.
Having a will in place gives you a say in who should have your property and assets.
You get to choose who is to be responsible for carrying out the wishes expressed in your will. You will do this by appointing such a person or persons in your will as your executor(s).
An executor appointed by will has the legal duty to carry out the terms of your will and to deal with your property and assets as directed by you. An executor has legal authority to start work immediately upon your death.
If you do not leave a will, your nearest surviving relative must come forward and apply for Letters of Administration. If the nearest relative will not come forward, then the next nearest relative must come forward in his or her place. This person will be the Administrator of your estate. An administrator (as compared with an executor appointed by a will) does not have any legal authority to start work immediately upon your death but must wait for the Probate Registry (Probate Court) to issue the Grant of Letters of Administration. This can take some time. Having a will therefore saves this delay.
In your will, it is possible for you to make it clear who you would like to look after any children that you have under the age of 18 at the time of your death. This is called appointing a guardian. Although it may still be necessary for the court to determine who can look after your children, you effectively have a voice through this provision in your will. Without a will appointing a guardian, a court order becomes more of a certainty. Disputes are less likely if there has been a clear, express appointment contained in a will.
Inheritance Tax (IHT)
Inheritance Tax is a tax on the value of a person’s estate on death and on certain gifts made during that person’s lifetime.
In some cases, it is possible to make a saving in Inheritance Tax (death duties) by making certain gifts in your will. Added savings can also be made by life-time tax planning linked to the will.
In some cases it is still possible to achieve an Inheritance Tax saving where there is no will. This involves preparing a Deed of Variation which is a legal document drawn up and signed up by all interested parties. The Deed of Variation changes the effect of the Intestacy Rules. However, difficulties can arise regarding the preparation of such deeds.
We regularly deal with the administration of estates either as executors ourselves or as the solicitors acting for the executors. See our probate page
We do not provide dedicated tax planning advice ourselves but we can assist you to obtain this.
Making a will without a solicitor may mean that it contains mistakes or even that the will is invalid as it has not been correctly drafted or executed. Having a correctly drafted will by a solicitor will make things easier for the family and loved ones that you leave behind.
We will use our knowledge and expertise to make sure that your will is correctly drafted and correctly executed. We will go through with you the potential situations which could occur when you pass away so that you can give us fully informed instructions and we can prepare your will tailored to your individual requirements.
It is also sensible to regularly review your will to make sure that it reflects your current wishes. Times when you should certainly consider reviewing your will include on divorce or marriage (marriage will invalidate your current will), births and deaths in the family and perhaps if there is a significant change to your financial circumstances.
If you would like a quote for preparation of your will or to amend or redraft an existing will, please contact us. If we are acting for you in property matters, then it is very easy for us to prepare wills for you at the same time and we can then offer a reduced fee for the preparation of the wills.