Expert Will Writers based in Northamptonshire
Making a Will:
The Company likes to make the process as simple and unintimidating as possible. Once an appointment has been made, at a time to suit you and in the privacy and comfort of your own home, it is confirmed in writing. With the confirmation letter is a list of items needing consideration prior to the meeting.
At the meeting, a full financial fact-find is conducted and your personal circumstances are fully discussed together with any particular concerns or issues you may wish to discuss. Suitable options will then be given and fixed prices for the work given. Such quotations will not be varied. Subject to such approval at that point, your instructions are taken.
There is then a fourteen day ‘cooling-off’ period, during which time, should you have reconsidered proceeding with the instruction, you may cancel the agreement without any financial obligation.
Subject to this, draft documentation will be produced and sent to you within 10-14 days of your original instruction for your approval. Once you have approved the documentation (and this may be after making amendments) a second appointment is made to execute “the Attestation” process, which involves the signing and witnessing of the final (engrossed) documents.
Under the laws of England and Wales, Wills must be signed by the Testator/Testatrix (man or woman writing a Will) in the presence of TWO independent witnesses. They must NOT be beneficiaries under the terms of the Will and ideally should not be mentioned in the document. It is vitally important that this process is completed correctly as most problems with Probate applications are Attestation related. The Company provides this service to all its clients and all costs quoted include such a service.
Points to consider when making a Will:
Limitation of Effect – you may have assets outside England & Wales which may require the writing of a Will in the Country in which those assets are situated.
Appointment of Executors – a very important position, as they will make sure that your instructions, as expressed in your Will, are carried out exactly as written. Whether you choose friends, relatives or a professional person or firm, your primary consideration should be that of trust. PLEASE, if you do not trust the person – do not appoint them. If a Trust is written within a Will, Executors will adopt the position of Trustees, unless you have appointed separate Trustees.
Appointment of Guardians – again, a position of great trust, therefore you must consider whether you trust potential nominees, but also consider whether they will bring up your children in the same way as you would. Are they situated conveniently geographically? Guardians are appointed to take up their position following the death of both parents, but under certain circumstances, such as an unmarried relationship, the father’s parental responsibility, and therefore his rights to appoint Guardians, may be a consideration.
Legacies of Money or Personal Property – do you wish to be specific about an amount of money being given to a specific person or organisation (such as a charity)? Do you have an item which is precious in terms of its monetary or sentimental value which you would like to leave to a specific person or organisation?
Business Assets – do you wish to leave your business assets to a specific person? Is there a shareholder agreement in place? Would it qualify for Business Property Relief?
Will Trusts – do you need to shield any assets in order to protect them? Trusts are legal instruments into which assets may be placed to give them certain protections and/or tax advantages. For example you may be concerned that should you die your surviving spouse may re-marry and your share of the property may go to the new spouse. By placing your share of the property in to a Protective Property Trust, you ensure this does not happen.
Long-term Care Cost Planning – it is a worrying fact that over 70,000 homes annually have to be sold to fund long term care, thereby depriving children of their inheritance. The Company offers planning measures both in your lifetime and through your Will.
Lifetime Asset Protection Trusts – these Trusts are created during your lifetime to shield vulnerable assets and to negate Probate administration charges on your death. Such charges can be as high as 8% of the Estate value dependent upon the provider!
Inheritance Tax – the only “voluntary” tax in the land, but a tough one! If your total assets exceed £325,000 (known as the Nil Rate Band) Inheritance Tax of 40% is applied to the excess. The current Nil-Rate Band entitlement of £325,000 is frozen (budget 2013) until 2018. An additional nil-rate band has just been announced in the 2015 budget of £175,000 per person in a married relationship. However the Estate must contain a property and that property must be inherited by the couples’ children. This allowance will be phased in from 2018-2021.
Severance of Joint Tenancy – by creating Tenancy in Common rather than Joint Tenancy in the ownership of property (real estate), you determine its ownership in terms of percentage shares. This facilitates the transfer of your share into Trusts giving lifetime interests to specified persons, but not ownership. You then specify ultimate beneficiaries following the death of the life tenant. This is the foundation of much asset protection and Inheritance Tax mitigation planning.
Residuary Estate – this is literally “everything else” after any Trusts and legacies. You may distribute in fractions, percentages or shares to as many or few beneficiaries as you wish, and my also like to consider where any such shares would pass on the death of any named beneficiary.
Non-Provision – is there someone for whom you have deliberately made no provision? If so, the Will itself needs to state this quite simply with a further, more in-depth explanation given in an Expression (or Memorandum) of Wishes. There may be certain other explanations which can be given in this way.
Funeral Requests – you may request that your organs are used for transplantation purposes or medical research and also the method and detail of your funeral. You may be a specific or otherwise as you wish. You may even wish to consider a pre-paid funeral plan.
NEVER forget, this is your Will – and as such, is nobody else’s concern. However, certain issues may require a discussion with beneficiaries such as children, but do NOT allow yourself to be coerced or persuaded against your initial instinct.
Whatever your personal circumstances and concerns, your Will will be tailored specifically to meet those needs and concerns – whether that means provision of the simplest or most complex of documents. The Company produces all documentation using programmes supplied through and approved by The Society of Will Writers, so you can rest assured that resulting documentation will contain up-to-date and approved precedents.
It is also important to review your Will from time to time otherwise it may not reflect your current circumstances or wishes. The Company offers a two-yearly review, so that you have the chance to make amendments as necessary and your Will will always be up-to-date.