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Wills Frequently Asked Questions

Here at Veritas Law we are specialist in preparing Wills and advising clients on how best to plan their estates, from the smallest to the most complex.

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about Wills. If you have other questions, or would like a consultation, please contact us.

I haven’t made a Will. What will happen to my assets when I die?

If you die without leaving a Will you are said to have died intestate. This means that a set of legal rules (the Laws of Intestacy) are imposed on your estate which specify how assets are distributed to family members in a fixed order. If you have contact usno family members then your assets will go to the Crown.

The risk of dying Intestate is that you, nor your family, will have any say in who gets what. Family members who you may not wish to, could inherit your assets. Likewise, people who are not blood relatives, such as unmarried partners, may not receive anything.

It is critical that you make a Will to avoid this situation.

See our page on the Laws of Intestacy for more information.

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Can I appoint someone to look after my children in a Will?

If your children are under 18 years of age, you can appoint guardians as part of your Will. This will ensure that should you die, your children will be looked after by the people you choose. If you do not appoint guardians then the courts would decide who would become their legal guardians. The people who the courts choose may not be who you would like to raise your children.

By including a guardianship provision in your Will it can also help to avoid disputes between opposing family members who would all like to help, for example different sets of grandparents. By stating your wishes in a Will you can make it clear exactly what you would like to happen.

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Can’t I just make a cheap Home made Will?

Home made Wills are rarely suitable or reliable. Even in the simplest cases, errors in writing the Will can render them invalid when the times comes to deal with your estate. Trying to save a small amount of money upfront can result in much higher costs later on for those dealing with the estate.

It is very common for incorrectly drawn up wills to be found to be invalid and disregarded by the courts. This can lead to the estate being treated as if you had died Intestate, i.e. without a will. Under the laws of intestacy your assets are distributed according to a statutory set of rules which leave a person's estate to their next of kin in a fixed order.See our page of the Laws of Intestacy for more information.

The main thing to consider when choosing a method of will writing is; will it be effective when you die? That is, will your estate be passed on to the people you choose?

There are a number of ways of having a will written. A professionally written will can be surprisingly affordable and will give you peace of mind knowing that your estate will be handled properly when you die.

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When should I update my Will?

You should review your Will whenever your circumstances change in any significant way.

Changes in circumstances which may affect your Will :

As a general rule it is recommended that you have your Will checked at least every 5 years to ensure that it still reflects your requirements.

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What are mirror Wills?

Mirror Wills are when two parties have the same Will but in reverse, for example, they leave everything to the other partner and thereafter to the children.

For example, when a husband and wife want to leave everything to the other spouse, they usually make Mirror Wills. contact us

It is not possible to have a joint Will for a married couple. Each individual must have their own Will, although the cost of making mirror Wills is usually less than the cost of making two Wills independently.

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I have remarried, can I leave my property to my children from an earlier marriage but still allow my current spouse to live in it?

An increasingly common area of trusts in Wills is where someone has remarried but has children from a first marriage. A life interest trust can offer a solution to the problem of protecting the children's inheritance whilst still providing for the current spouse.

Life interests have a number of uses and one of our specialist solicitors would be happy to discuss these with you and how they may be used in planning your estate.

Second Marriages & Life Interests

If you remarry following a bereavement or divorce, and have children from a previous marriage, it is possible to ensure the financial security of your current spouse whilst still protecting your children's eventual inheritance.

With most standard Wills, if you leave everything to your new partner your assets would become theirs when you die. When they then die, those assets would form part of their own estate and would then be passed to their beneficiaries, who may be their own children, thus depriving your children of any inheritance.

This risk can be mitigated by creating a 'Life interest Will'. The family home is a good example of where this can be used. You may wish to leave the property to your children eventually, but still enable your current partner to live in it after you have died.

With a Life Interest Trust you can give your partner a life interest in the property, meaning that after your death they can live in the property until they die (or remarry if you wish), at which point the property passes to your children or other beneficiaries.

In this way you can protect both your partner and eventual beneficiaries.

Contact us for more information or to arrange a consultation.

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