Wills Solicitors in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire
As solicitors, it is our professional responsibility to highlight the importance of making Wills and the possible consequences of dying without a Will.
Our friendly and reputable team would be pleased to help you write or update your Will. Please call us on 01707 329333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book an online or in-person Wills appointment.
Table of Contents
- What is the purpose of a Will in the UK?
- Why is it important to make a Will?
- What is the benefit of getting a will?
- What happens if you don't have a will in the UK?
- Who inherits when there is no will in UK?
- What are the most important factors of a will?
- Appointing Children’s Guardians in your Will
- When should I write my will?
- Who should benefit from your will?
- Who is the best choice for executor of Will?
- Do I need a solicitor to write my Will?
- How much will a solicitor charge to do a Will?
- Process of making a Will at Crane & Staples
- Who keeps the original copy of a will?
- How much do solicitors charge to store a will?
- Do you have to register a Will in the UK?
- Your Local Will Writing Solicitors
What is the purpose of a Will in the UK?
In summary, a Will is a legal document that states what happens to your assets and possessions when you die.
A Will also states who has the legal responsibility of ensuring your estate is distributed correctly (executor).
Why is it important to make a Will?
Overall, it is important to make a Will to ensure that your estate and assets are administered by and given to people of your choice after you die.
Making a Will provides you with a sense of control and peace of mind, knowing that your wishes will be carried out and your estate will go to who you want it to.
What is the benefit of getting a will?
Ultimately, having a will provides you with the autonomy to ensure that when you die, your estate goes to people of your choice. It makes your wishes and intentions clear and prevents any uncertainty for your loved ones.
Some key advantages of making a Will are:
- You decide who benefits from your estate, such as your partner, family, friends or charities.
- You appoint an Executor who can administer your estate.
- You choose a suitable guardian for your children.
- You save your loved ones from unnecessary stress, expenses or disputes.
- You gain peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out.
What happens if you don't have a will in the UK?
In the UK, it is estimated that over 60% of adults do not have a Will.
Dying without a Will can have negative consequences for you and your loved ones.
Depending on your circumstances, potential consequences could be:
- The rules of Intestacy will apply to your estate. This means that your estate may be inherited by people you would not have chosen. It also means other people you wished to benefit from your Will may not receive anything.
- Your Estate may be administered by someone you would not have chosen. If you have not appointed an Executor, one of your loved ones will have to apply to manage the distribution of your estate. This can be a stressful process during a time of bereavement. It also means they will not be able to act quickly to administer your estate. For example, they may not be able to access funds to pay for your funeral.
- If you have infant children, the Court will decide who becomes their legal guardian.
- Your Estate may bear unnecessary Inheritance Tax.
Who inherits when there is no will in UK?
The rules of intestacy will apply if there is no will. Under the rules of intestacy, your estate will pass to your closest living relatives. If you do not have any eligible potential beneficiaries, then, under intestacy rules, your entire estate will pass to the Crown.
The Government have produced a useful questionnaire that can help you determine who would inherit under the rules of Intestacy. You can complete this here – Intestacy – who inherits if someone dies without a will? – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
What are the most important factors of a will?
Generally, the most important factors of a simple will include:
- Appointing executors – an executor is a trusted person who you appoint to have the legal responsibility to ensure your estate is administered and distributed in accordance with the instructions in your Will.
- Appointing beneficiaries to inherit a share of your estate, finances, property and prized belongings.
- Appointing guardians for your children, if applicable.
Other important factors to consider in more complex wills may include:
- Cross-border issues regarding ownership of foreign property. In some circumstances, it may be necessary to make a foreign will.
- Plans and instructions for succession if you own a business.
- Tax implications – you can make considerations to mitigate Inheritance Tax in your Will.
- Creating trusts – You may also want to consider protecting assets within the terms of a Trust or general estate planning. If this is something you are considering, we advise that you seek legal and financial advice prior to signing your Will.
- Appointing trustees, if applicable. Trustees are people you appoint to manage and have responsibility for any trusts set up in your Will.
Our team can help tailor your Will to cover all the above factors and further considerations, depending on your personal circumstances. Please contact us to book an initial Will meeting.
Appointing Children’s Guardians in your Will
If you have children under the age of 18, you can specify who should look after them in the event of your death.
If you had planned for someone to be your children’s guardian but not formalised this in your Will, the person of your choice may have to go through legal proceedings to establish guardianship.
This could be a long and stressful process for the children. In particularly complex circumstances, this could result in your children temporarily residing in a foster home until a suitable guardian is chosen.
When should I write my will?
It is a common misconception that only older people or people with a medical diagnosis should write a Will. In reality, everyone should make a Will. It is entirely up to you when you choose to write your Will. Certain life events should prompt you to make or update your Will.
What is the best age to write a will?
There is no perfect age to write a will. In fact, anyone over the age of 18 can make a Will at any time. The Will can be updated as your life circumstances change.
What life events affect your Will?
There are a variety of life events which should prompt you to make or update your Will. For example:
- Getting married
- Having children or grandchildren
- Getting divorced or separated
- Buying a house
- Change in financial circumstances.
Do I need a Will if I own property?
We strongly encourage anyone who owns property to make a Will to ensure that the property is inherited by people of their choice. People with significant property portfolios may also make considerations for taxes or trusts in their Will.
Does a spouse automatically inherit the house?
This is dependent on how you own the Property you live in. Whilst legally you will always hold the legal title as joint tenants, you can hold the beneficial title as tenants in common or joint tenants.
Joint tenants means that you have equal rights to the whole property. Should you die, your share of the property will automatically go to your spouse.
Should you own the property as tenants in common, you each own defined shares in the property. Your spouse will not automatically inherit the property. Instead, your share of the property will be inherited as per the instructions in your Will, or following intestacy rules. In many cases, this may indeed be your spouse. However, you may wish to leave your share of the house to someone else. If so, your beneficiaries should consider a Transfer of Equity and Declaration of Trust.
Who should benefit from your will?
This is your decision.
Writing a Will means you can choose exactly who benefits from your Will, and what they inherit. Potential beneficiaries could be family members, friends, or charities.
At Crane and Staples, we ensure that no one else is present in our Will discussion meeting. Therefore, you can be completely open and tell us exactly who you want to benefit from your Will.
Rules for Dependents
A dependent is someone who relies on you for support, particularly financial support. For example, your dependents could be your spouse, children under the age of 18, or a relative that you care for.
You do need to be aware that if you choose to exclude someone who is dependent on you at the time of your death from your Will, there is potential for them to bring a claim against the Estate.
The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 enables certain categories of people to apply to the Court to make a claim against an Estate if they allege that the deceased did not make reasonable provisions for them. Examples of who can apply are spouse/civil partner, former spouse (so long as they have not remarried), someone living with the deceased for two years, children, or any other person being maintained by deceased at the date of death.
Leaving a gift to charity in your Will
Some people also choose to leave a gift to charity (called a legacy) in their Will. This can be a way of supporting a charity that was close to your heart in your lifetime. What’s more, legacies made to charities in Wills are also exempt from tax.
Can I leave everything to my wife/husband in my Will?
There are no rules on who everything must be left to, therefore, you can leave everything to your spouse in your Will if you wish.
You should not delay making a Will based on the assumption that your spouse will inherit everything under intestacy rules.
Dying without a Will may cause further administrative delays and complications for your spouse after you pass away. It is therefore advisable to make a Will to ensure it is clear that your spouse and anyone else of your choosing are to benefit from your Will. You can also appoint your spouse or another chosen person as executor, meaning they can start to administer your estate without delay.
Does a spouse override a Will?
A spouse does not override a Will. However, if you choose to disinherit your spouse from your Will, they may be able to make a claim against your estate.
Should you choose to leave your spouse out of the Will, then we strongly advise that you seek legal advice. Please contact us if you wish to discuss this further.
Please note that marriage revokes a Will. With this in mind, it is imperative you arrange to have a new Will signed once you are married, or you make your Will in contemplation of marriage.
Who is the best choice for executor of Will?
An executor is someone you appoint to ensure that your estate is administered correctly. Your executor has the legal responsibility to carry out the instructions left in your Will.
You can appoint up to four executors.
Who is the best executor of a Will?
You can appoint anyone over the age of 18 who has mental capacity to be the executor of your Will.
This is an important role so you should choose someone who you trust, and you feel will cope with the responsibility of the role.
Is it better to have a solicitor as executor of a Will?
It is a personal preference as to whether it is best to have a solicitor act as executor of a will.
Some advantages of having a solicitor as executor of your Will include:
- Solicitors have significant experience managing the probate and estate administration process. This could help the matter run smoothly and efficiently.
- A Solicitor will not be involved in any potential family conflict.
- A Solicitor will not have the same feelings of grief and bereavement that may make the process difficult for loved ones to manage.
Nonetheless, you may prefer to appoint a trusted loved one, relative or friend to be the executor of your estate. You can also appoint multiple executors, so you could choose a relative as well as a firm of solicitors, for example.
In any event, your Executors can also instruct a probate solicitor to assist them in the matter, retaining some of the advantages above. You can find out more about the role of a probate solicitor and how they can assist executors here.
Crane & Staples Professional Executor Service
At Crane & Staples, we offer a professional executor service where the Partners of our firm can act as your executors. You can choose to appoint us solely as executors, or you can appoint us alongside another executor of your choice, such as a relative.
We can discuss this option with you in detail when making your Will. Please contact us for more information.
Who has more power, next of kin or executor?
A legal Will takes precedent over any next of kin rights. This means that your executor has the power to administer your Will, regardless of whether they are next of kin.
If you have reason to believe that an executor is not carrying out their role correctly or is abusing their power, we would recommend that you seek independent legal advice. Executors can be held personally liable for mistakes.
Any dispute may be resolved by writing to the Executor and asking them what steps that they have taken to collect in the assets of the Deceased’s estate and administer them in accordance with the will. The Executor may be able to provide an explanation for delay. Should this not be successful, then you may wish to issue a Part 8 Claim in the High Court seeking the removal of the executor as the personal representative of the Deceased estate under section 50 of the Administration of Justice Act 1985 and for the sake of clarity moving forward you may wish to appoint an independent professional solicitor. You may wish to instruct Crane and Staples if you are having issues with the executor.
Do I need a solicitor to write my Will?
Whilst it is possible to write your own Will without a Solicitor, this is not advisable. There are many advantages to using a Solicitor to make a Will. You can find out more about why you should use a solicitor to make a Will here.
How much will a solicitor charge to do a Will?
The cost of a Will varies from firm to firm. You should be very careful when making your selection. Whilst offers for ‘cheap’ online Wills may seem tempting, you could be at risk of legal loopholes if your Will is not produced by a genuine expert.
Crane & Staples fees
Our fees for making a Will are below:
- Single Will (one person) – from £400 plus VAT depending on complexity.
- Mirror Wills (joint Wills for couples) – from £550 plus VAT depending on complexity.
We will always keep you updated regarding our fees.
Process of making a Will at Crane & Staples
- You arrange an appointment with one of our specialist Will Solicitors
- In the appointment, your Solicitor takes your instructions and provides advice about personal circumstances to consider
- Your Solicitor prepares a draft Will and sends this to you by post or email for checking
- Any amendments are made and agreed
- Then, a final copy of the Will is produced for signing
- The Will is signed and witnessed either:
- At a meeting in our offices, where our staff act as witnesses
- At a home visit, where our staff or another suitable person act as witnesses
- By being posted to you, and you arrange to sign your Will with two suitable witnesses
- The final Will is given to us so we can make copies for ourselves and you
- The original Will is stored, either:
- In our fireproof deeds room, at your request, retained by us; or
- In a safe place of your choosing, retained by you
- We register your Will with Certainty, the National Will Register.
Will solicitors make home visits?
At Crane and Staples, we will make home visits for clients who require this. For example, we frequently visit clients in care homes or with disabilities. There may be a charge for this depending on the location of the home visit.
Can I make a will over a video call with a solicitor?
Yes, we can arrange to meet with clients over video call, such as by MS Teams or Zoom. Further details on requirements from clients who wish to meet with a solicitor over a video call are emailed / explained to clients when the appointment is made.
What do I need to take to a solicitor when making a will?
Firstly, at the initial meeting you need to take 2 forms of ID.
- one form of photographic ID (passport, driving licence etc)
- Proof of address (recent bank statement, utility bill etc).
Prior to the meeting, we can send you a Will questionnaire. Completing this questionnaire will help give us an overview of your wishes, assets, property, finances and family situation.
How long should a solicitor take to write a Will?
At Crane & Staples, we will always try to produce your Will as efficiently as possible. It is important that a Will is completed with accuracy and precision and the appropriate amount of time is spent producing it.
In urgent circumstances, such as when a client has become very ill, we will prioritise writing these Wills to ensure they can be finalised as soon as possible.
Who keeps the original copy of a will?
It is up to you where your original Will is stored. You should keep this document safe. You should also ensure your executors know where your Will is kept.
At Crane and Staples, we have a fireproof deeds room where you can store your Will. If you choose this option, we will send you copies of your Will for your records. Upon death, your executors can contact us to retrieve the original will.
How much do solicitors charge to store a will?
This will vary from firm to firm. At Crane and Staples there is a nominal one-off storage charge for this service of £10 plus VAT per Will. However, this fee is waived if the Partners of this firm are your executors.
Do you have to register a Will in the UK?
Whilst you do not have to, we strongly recommend that you register your Will. For this purpose, this ensures that if your Will is ever lost, misplaced or forgotten over the passage of time, it can be found.
At Crane & Staples, we register Wills with Certainty, the National Will Register. Will registration is included in our will-writing service.
Your Local Will Writing Solicitors
Crane and Staples have an incredibly helpful Private client team who would be pleased to help you make a Will. Please contact us on 01707 329333 or email email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you.