Wills and trusts – do you trust in a Will?

Recently I have been asked to act as executor to several clients and family members. Also, as Barnes Roffe is now licensed to provide Probate Services, I have been involved in obtaining probate for a late client. This, plus listening to a BBC London programme this week which featured this subject, led me to thinking about writing a blog on the matter.

The BBC London programme was looking at possible alternative ways to make a Will. They were focusing on the cost of Wills and reducing this. However, I doubt that reducing costs will encourage people to make a Will. I feel that people will still fail to make a Will as they don’t appreciate why they should do so in the first place. Also, people should not make a Will without professional assistance (unless their circumstances are very simple). Let me give you some examples:

1. Did you know that marriage invalidates previous Wills?

2. Did you know that cohabiting does not create any rights for the cohabitee?

3. Did you know that your spouse does not, in all circumstances, automatically inherit all of your assets unless you have a Will saying so?

4. Did you know that a dependant can make a legal claim on your estate, even if excluded from a Will?

The fact of modern life is that many people are separated, divorced, cohabiting and have children from previous relationships. This makes it likely that the law of intestacy, which determines who inherits in the absence of a Will, is unsuitable for the needs of the deceased’s family. The following link might be useful here… https://www.gov.uk/inherits-someone-dies-without-will

Please also bear in mind that a poorly drafted Will needs the consent of all beneficiaries to be varied. This is often a problem as they might not see eye-to-eye. Hence, one should ensure that Wills are drafted by a suitably experienced advisor, hopefully with an appropriate qualification, who is familiar with your family circumstances and wishes.

Finally, please tell people where your Will is kept. There is no central register for such documents in the UK, so leaving it with your professional advisor to keep in their safe is a good idea. Also, if you revise your Will make sure the superseded document is replaced.

Whilst this is a difficult subject for many people, it is important that we all realise a Will is not just for tax planning, it is to make it easier for your family after your death. So make sure it works in the way that you intended!

If in doubt, please call your Barnes Roffe contact for more information.


Blog by: Graham Wallace

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