Tim Bailey, Associate Solicitor at Bowcock & Pursaill Solicitors, talks about why it’s important to have a Will in place and what you should consider including in it.
In this time of Covid-19 and the consequent haste to “put your house in order, if you’re looking at Will planning or thinking of what to include in your Will it’s useful to take note of the following tips so that you and those close to you can have a Will which ensures an efficient inheritance:
Unfortunately, the writing of wills is not a “regulated” legal activity, meaning anybody can set up to do it. During the Coronavirus pandemic last year the BBC reported that the upsurge in the demand for Wills, combined with the need to social distance, literally lead to “wills being signed on car bonnets”. When embarking upon your Last Will and Testament always call upon qualified, experienced and insured legal professionals. All solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) so that you are not only receiving qualified expert advice, but if any dispute does arise between client and solicitor the client has a meaningful way of redress via the SRA and Legal Ombudsman Service.
The value of your assets and how they are held (for example in property or shares) will determine your liability to pay taxes. As a starting point, compile a list of your assets and liabilities together with approximate values. Your solicitor will then be able to consider what tax relief might be available.
If there may be any contentious issues surrounding your Will, once written, consider communicating content with relevant family and friends so that there are no surprises. It may be advisable to prepare a letter of wishes to be kept with your Will, stating why you have chosen certain beneficiaries and excluded others.
Executors are those individuals trusted by you to carry out the terms of your Will. You should name more than one person to minimise risk of both passing away before you. Also select substitute executors for those circumstances where those named executors are unwilling or unable to act.
A minimum of two witnesses are required to see you sign or acknowledge the Will in their presence before they, themselves sign the document. A recent announcement from the Government currently allows virtual witnessing of wills from 31 January 2020 to 31 January 2022.
Life circumstances often have a habit of changing rapidly and your Will should be updated to factor in any significant life events such as births, deaths, divorce, and re-marriage. Failing to do so may risk the document not outlining what you want it to.
Tim continues: “In my work with clients dealing with matters of Wills and Power of Attorney, there can be a number of complex issues. These need to be dealt with in a sensitive manner, exercising discretion and understanding.
“It’s important for anyone that has assets to make a Lasting Will and Testament to protect those assets and to ensure that their wishes are carried out upon their death.”
If you’re thinking of making a Will or need to update an existing document, the specialist team at Bowcock & Pursaill has comprehensive knowledge in this area and can advise on all aspects of Will planning including Trusts, Estate Planning, and Inheritance Tax. Contact the team to arrange a convenient COVID-secure appointment via telephone.
Call 01538 399199 to find out how their team of experts can tailor advice to meet your individual needs.