While it’s something none of us look forward to undertaking, completing a Will is vitally important to ensure our loved ones are in the best possible position should the worst happen.
At Wilson & Bird, we have many years of experience in preparing Wills in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. In his last 30+ years of being a solicitor our Director Paul Bird has encountered pretty much every scenario you can imagine. He is therefore ideally placed to guide you through the process. The following is a personal statement from our director Paul Bird.
All our wills are individually prepared and overseen by me. I have over 30 years experience of advising clients in the preparation of their Wills and ensuring that what I draft meets the wishes of each client.
Wills are a vitally important legal document, and must comply with specific requirements. As a general rule I personally supervise and witness the execution of Wills which I have prepared, thereby ensuring valid execution. Unfortunately, due to the limitations on social distancing etc imposed by the Government as a result of Coronavirus, and the need to protect your health I am not able to offer this service currently.
However, when I prepare your Will I will provide you with clear instructions as to the steps you need to take in order to ensure that any Wills executed away from my office are properly signed.
While each clients situation will vary, I am pleased to be able to continue to offer clients a fixed fee for the preparation of SIMPLE WILL. This fee is £180 including VAT.
More Complex Wills
For more complex wills, the amount I charge will vary according to the extent of the work involved which is based on our hourly charging rates.
Unsure? Get in touch
Should you be unsure of your situation, please contact me for more information.
I am also pleased to say that as a firm we offer a free storage service for wills we have prepared, subject to conditions.
Execution or signing of a Will
Apart from some very specific exceptions, English law lays down very strict rules with regard to the proper execution of Valid Wills. Any failure to comply with these rules will almost certainly render the proposed Will invalid. If a Will is not properly executed, the Will is invalid and therefore the intestacy rules will apply instead. Any wishes that you may have expressed in the failed Will, will be ignored. It’s therefore Vitally important that your Will complies with these rules.
If you haven’t prepared a Will before, it can be daunting task and you may not know where to start. I am here to guide you through it. As a starting point, I have listed below some of the most common decisions which are included in simple wills:
Preparing a Will / Common Provisions
A. It is normal to specify who the persons are that are going to act as executors and/or trustees under the Will, ideally at least 2 are appointed with a maximum of 4.it should be someone you trust AND it can be a beneficiary.
B. Express some wishes regarding funeral arrangements particularly either burial or cremation.
C. Where infant children could survive the deceased, then it is usual to appoint guardians to look after the child/children and their interests until they attain 18.
D. Where the testator has intentionally excluded a particular person or family member or members from benefiting under the Will then it is good practice to include an explanation of the reason for this exclusion/provision to limit the opportunities for the will to be challenged later on.
E. Frequently the testator may wish to bequeath specific gifts to specific individuals, this can be either a certain item or a specific share or proportion of an asset.
F. Equally a provision is included whereby a specific gift or a proportion of a persons estate is given to charity, (gifts to charity are excluded in the assessment of inheritance tax).
G. Once all other gifts and provisions have been taken into account what is left is the Residue or Residuary Estate, this can be given to an individual or shared in proportions specified between various beneficiaries.
H. It is normal to include a provision for professional executors to be able to charge for their time in administering the deceased’s estate.
I. It is normal to include a clause giving an extension to the powers of investment granted to the trustees.
J. Also a provision allowing the Executors and Trustees to use parts of the estate for the maintenance of infant beneficiaries.
Research suggests that half of UK adults have not prepared a Will – a worrying figure when you consider the added distress this can cause your loved ones during an already difficult time. If you consider that most people have a property, children, assets of personal significance, or just strong views of who should or should not benefit following their death, the lack of a valid will means that
For a simple estate, not having a Will could mean people you want to receive a benefit not getting anything, people you do NOT want to receive any benefit getting some, potentially your partner having nowhere to live, and your children being forced to leave their home.
I was recently instructed by a client who, having very recently lost her father (he had not left a Will), found that she had to incur significant extra costs to protect her fathers estate which included a business, so that this could continue to operate, if not the business would have stopped operating and the employees would have lost their jobs and the estate lost the value of the business.
If you are confused about what to do, or are ready to make a will, please contact me today on 01296 436766 or by email – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Demystifying confusing legal jargon
Because I understand that legal jargon can at times be daunting and confusing, I have put together a simple description of the most commonly referred to words below:
A person who is entitled to apply for letters of administration to the estate of a person who has not left a valid Will (male/female).
A person who is named as being left something in a will, or who is entitled to receive a benefit under a persons will or intestacy.
A person can only make a valid will if they have mental Capacity, this presumes they have the knowledge of the extent of their estate, what would normally be expected and are able to reason why they have not made a provision which they otherwise would be expected to make.
A person named in a will as an executor (male/female)
Inheritance Provision for Family and Dependents Act
Claims can be made against a deceased persons estate by a member of the deceased’s family who considers that they have not been properly provided for under the will of a deceased.
Inheritance Tax (IHT)
Is a tax ONLY payable following death, each person is entitled to an amount where no tax is charged (called nil rate band which is currently £325,000). Where the total value of a persons estate exceeds the nil rate band, IHT is payable it is generally charged at 40% of the excess over the nil rate band.
A person dies intestate when they die without leaving a valid Will.
A person who is entitled to receive a specific gift or provision in a Will.
Letters of Administration
These are applied for and obtained when a person has died without leaving a valid Will.
Letter of Wishes
Is an optional document signed by the testator which sets out matters extraneous to the Will But which are referred to and expressed as discretionary in the Will. This cannot overrule the provisions of the Will but is addressed to the Executors expressing the Testators wishes on certain matters. It can be amended and no particular formality accompanies this.
Probate (Grant of)
This is the formal legal document vesting authority in the Executors (when granted). It is applied for by the Executors (or some of them) named in the Will who pay the fee and file the required Oath and the original Will with the Probate Registry generally with an Inheritance Tax Account.
Administrators and Executors who do not wish to be involved in the administration of a deceased’s estate can decline to be involved by renouncing their right.
The person who makes a will, male or female.
Commonly these are the same individuals as the Executors, but are not required to be in law. Trustees are required to carry out the Testators instructions where a Trust is formed/created in a Will.