Why do I need a Will?
Making a Will ensures that your estate is distributed in accordance with your exact instructions and wishes.
Some of the reasons for which people leave a Will are to:
- control the distribution of their estate
- appoint guardians for their children
- protect their wealth
- leave a legacy to charity
- look after a family pet
- set up trusts
If you do not write a Will, when you die the law decides what happens to the assets which form part of your estate. This is called intestacy. Under intestacy rules, only married or civil partners or some other close relatives can inherit your estate. Whilst this may not prove problematic if your circumstances are relatively straightforward, should you have a more complex estate or wish to leave specific assets to different people, you must have a Will.
Visit our Wills page for more information here.
Why use JWALS not a solicitor?
Most high-street solicitors do a little bit of everything rather than being specialists – a little like your local GP. As a general rule, they will have had no more than a few hours training on Wills and Probate prior to qualifying. JWALS estate planning consultants are highly experienced and can give better and more cost-effective advice.
For peace of mind, you could research what experience your consultant has and check whether they carry professional indemnity insurance. We have a great team of consultants based all over the UK who are backed up by a central legal team who are experts in their field. We’re confident that you’ll get the very best advice available. In fact, this is one of the reasons we’re frequently featured on the BBC and other press!
How much does a Will cost?
At JWALS, we offer a range of different ways to make a Will. The cost of each Will depends on the Will writing service you choose and what your individual circumstances are. As a rule of thumb, a Home Visit Will writing service should cost from £105 per Will. Our Instant DIY Will Online service starts from £49.50 per Will.
What about the cheaper high-street Will Writing services?
These days many companies offer a Will writing service. We recommend that you do thorough research before deciding which company or service to use.
Every industry has its cowboys and rather than pretend that they don’t exist, we’d rather warn you about them. Many people have been caught out by scams such as cheap Will writing services and have ended up paying far in excess of the low prices initially quoted.
Rumour has it that solicitors make more money out of putting together incorrectly compiled DIY Will packs than they do out of writing normal Wills for their own clients. DIY Will packs are unproblematic if you use them for relatively simple requirements and you follow the instructions carefully. And if we had a penny for every client who has told us that they bought one but never got around to doing it…
How do I make my Will?
At JWALS, we offer a range of Will writing services, including DIY Wills, Video Call Wills and Home Visit Wills. A DIY Will enables you to write your own Will using our up to the minute software from the comfort of your own home. A Video Call Will means that you will talk to our experienced estate planners via Zoom, Skype or which ever method you choose in a Covid safe consultation. The consultant will take your instructions over video link and draw up a Will based on your requirements. If you prefer a more personal approach then our consultant will visit you at a convenient time at your home. Naturally in the difficult times Covid secure protocols are to be observed for your safety and the safety of our consultants. We are currently also able to offer online Will witnessing over video link. Depending on your individual circumstances, we can advise on which type of Will would be most suitable for you. Once you have decided how you would like to make your Will please get in touch- we are currently offering a free, no obligation 20 min Video Call if you would like to take advantage of this or book a meeting straight away please contact us.
How do I write my Will?
Before you write a Will, you need to work out what your estate is comprised of. Some of the assets which make up an estate are:
- Your home and any other property you own
- Money and savings in bank accounts
- Pension funds
- Any insurance policies
- Jewellery/other valuable or sentimental items
You will then need to decide who you wish to receive all of these assets. Different assets can be left to different people.
The final step in the planning stage is to decide who you want your executor(s) to be. This is the person who will be in charge of distributing your estate.
How do I apply for Probate?
Applying for probate is applying for the legal right to deal with someone’s estate when they die. Only the executor named in the Will can apply for probate.
The below is an outline of the probate process:
- Obtain the death certificate
- Locate the Will and other documentation relating to the estate of the deceased, e.g. bank statements and pension documents
- Value the estate, apply for the grant of probate and complete an inheritance tax form
- Inform all relevant organisations about the death and close down all accounts
- Pay off any debts and claim on any insurance policies
- Work out the value of the remaining estate and distribute the assets to the beneficiaries according to the instructions of the Will
Just Wills & Legal Services can take the weight off your mind and handle the entire probate process. For more information, visit our probate page here.
How long does Probate take?
Probate usually takes between nine months and a year to complete but this will depend on the size and complexity of the estate in question. If issues arise with the sale of a property, for example, this could delay probate and make the process longer. Your JWALS consultant will be in regular contact to keep you updated as to the status of your probate application and subsequently the distribution of the estate. Please note that owing to the current coronavirus situation, applications for probate are taking longer than usual. Please visit our Probate page for more information.
What are the rules of intestacy?
The rules of intestacy apply when a person has not left a Will. Under these rules, married or civil partners inherit up to the first £250,000 of the deceased’s estate (it is important to note that unmarried and co-habiting partners will not inherit). The rest of the estate will be divided equally between any children. If there are no children, the surviving spouse or civil partner will inherit everything in the estate. If the deceased is unmarried, all of the proceeds of the estate will be divided between any children when they turn 18.
The problem with the rules of intestacy is that they do not allow for legacies to be left to anyone other than immediate family and the estate is distributed in a strict, specific order. Life is rarely without nuance and complexities, so we recommend that everyone writes a Will to ensure that their exact wishes are catered for when they die.
Please visit our Intestacy page for more information.
Can an executor of a Will be a beneficiary?
It is a common misconception that an executor cannot also be a beneficiary. In reality, beneficiaries to a Will are often also named as executors and this is perfectly acceptable. It is important to note, however, that beneficiaries and their spouses/civil partners cannot be witnesses to a Will. If this situation occurs, the beneficiaries will not be entitled to receive any legacies left to them under the Will. For more information, please visit our Wills page and if you have any doubts, please contact us.
How do I protect my property in a Will?
One way of protecting your property is by setting up a property protection trust in your Will. This is a trust which protects a property from the impact of later-life financial commitments, such as care home fees. A property protection trust may enable you to continue living in your home during your lifetime while being able to pass on the value of it to beneficiaries, such as your children.
For a property protection trust to work, a couple must own a property jointly as tenants in common. Both parties must make a Will leaving their share of the property in the trust set up in the Will. When the first person dies, their share of the property passes into the trust.
For more information, visit our Property Protection Trust page.
What is a lasting power or attorney and how do I get one?
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document where you nominate a family member, friend or other acquaintance to be your ‘attorney’ and manage your affairs should the need arise.
There are two types of LPA. A health and welfare LPA gives your attorney permission to make decisions about your healthcare and medical treatment should you lose mental capacity. A property and financial affairs LPA allows your attorney to manage assets such as your property and your bank account. You do not have to have lost mental capacity for the property and financial affairs LPA to become active.
JWALS is able to advise on both types of LPA either through an online meeting or a home visit. For more information, visit our Lasting Power of Attorney page here.
What do I need to consider when funeral planning?
Some of the things you may wish to consider when planning your own funeral are:
- Whether you wish to be buried or cremated?
- If you wish to be cremated, where would you like your ashes to be kept or scattered?
- Are there any particular clothes you would like to wear for your burial/cremation?
- Where would you like your funeral to be held?
- Who would you like to attend your funeral?
- Are there any songs you would like to be sung or poems read?
- Should there be a wake or party after the funeral? If so, how should the wake be carried out?
- Would you like to nominate a charity to which people can make donations or would you prefer that gifts were sent to your family?
There are many other factors you may wish to consider before finalizing your funeral plans. For advice or further information, see our funeral wishes page here.
What funeral plan services are there?
Providing for your own funeral arrangements in your Will makes a great deal of sense.
By putting some simple plans in place, you can save your family additional worry and expense when you die. What’s more, you can ensure that your funeral is carried out exactly as you would have wanted it to be.
A Just Wills and Legal Services Funeral Plan allows you to pay for your funeral today and guarantee that the cost of it will be completely covered when the time comes.
If you would like further details or would like to arrange an appointment please visit our funeral services page here.
How can I get a Will signed with Social Distancing?
In July 2020 temporary new legislation was introduced which allows for the witnessing of the signing of a Will or LPA to happen over video. Wills witnessed over video will be deemed legal as long as the quality of the sound and video is “sufficient to see and hear what is happening at the time”. The Will still needs to be witnessed via video by two witnesses who are not beneficiaries. The new legislation will backdate to Wills witnessed via video since 31 January 2020 and will apply to Wills made up until 31 January 2022, although the timeframe may be shortened or extended by the government as necessary. Please visit our Video Call Will page for more information.
Can I get a Will done without having to see an advisor?
Yes, at Just Wills & Legal Services, one of the Will services we offer is a DIY Will. DIY Wills are made using our industry leading software. You will answer specific questions about your circumstances so that your Will can be drawn up accordingly. DIY Wills can be made quickly and with relative ease. This type of Will may be suitable for you if your requirements and wishes for what happens to your assets upon your death are relatively simple. If your financial circumstances are more complex, or if you wish to leave different parts of your estate to several different people, we would recommend using one of our bespoke Will writing services. Please visit our DIY Wills page for more information.
Why would I need a Lasting Power of Attorney?
Unlike a Will, which deals with your estate after you die, an LPA deals with financial or care decisions when you’re still alive but may lack capacity.
There are currently around 850,000 people with dementia in the UK. This is projected to rise to 1.6 million by 2040. 209,600 will develop dementia this year, that’s one every three minutes. The only way to legally ensure someone can look after your affairs or decide upon the care you should receive is by making Lasting Powers of Attorney.
Without an LPA, your loved ones could end up having to make difficult decisions or pay out a lot of money on your behalf. The Court of Protection would have to appoint a deputy to manage your affairs, which can be both time-consuming and costly.
Where would I keep the Will?
Many people choose to keep their Will in a safe place at home. However, we all know how easy it is to lose or misplace documents which are kept at home, especially if you move house. Furthermore, with over 64,000 household fires, 1,000,000 burglaries and 2,000,000 homes at risk from flooding each year, the statistics are against us.
For your reassurance, our Customer Care Package offers a substantial range of benefits.
- Secure storage of your Will and associated documents
Irreplaceable paperwork is safe and remains confidential so it can’t be invalidated by accident or viewed against your wishes by family and friends
- Free annual update service
No need to pay a fee every time you need to make a small amendment to your Will. This covers basic changes such as new address details and the inclusion of new beneficiaries
If you would like further details or would like to arrange an appointment please click here.
Will this Will from JWALS be legal?
For a Will to be legally valid, you must:
- Be 18 or over
- Be making the Will voluntarily
- Be of sound mind
- Make it in writing
- Sign it in the presence of two witnesses who are both over 18
- Have it signed by two witnesses in your presence
- Not leave your witnesses (or their married partners) anything in your Will
Our consultants are experienced estate planning professionals who will leave no stone unturned to make sure that all the above criteria is met so that your Will is entirely legal.
Is it possible to stop my house being sold to pay for my care?
If you are concerned about the prospect of either you or your married or civil partner going into care in the future, a property protection trust may be suitable for you. Properties are usually subject to local authority means testing for the purpose of calculating care fees.
Often, couples make Wills which leave their entire estate to the surviving spouse and, upon the death of the spouse, to their children. This essentially means that the survivor inherits the wealth of the deceased.
The problem with this is that the inherited wealth will be counted as part of the surviving spouse’s estate. If their wealth is over a certain level, they may be required to use the money to pay for care fees should they require it.
By placing the property or part of the property in trust, you can ensure that it will not be used to pay the care fees of the surviving spouse or civil partner. As a result, the ultimate beneficiaries will also inherit more.
How do I go about making changes to my Will?
Once you have signed your Will and had it witnessed, it is not possible to make amendments to the original Will document as this could risk invalidating it.
If you have our storage scheme alterations are free of charge and you receive a brand new Will with your up to date details.
You may have heard of Codicils to Wills which allow you to make alterations, we do not recommend these.
I think you’ve taken over the company I did my Will with, have you got my details?
The security arrangements surrounding the storage of Wills are strict and there should be no reason for you to worry.
If JWALS has taken over the company with which you originally made your Will, your client details will have transferred over to us. Any Wills or deeds which were held in storage by the old company or law firm will also have been transferred and will remain in a safe storage facility. If you think this might be the case for you, contact us.
I made a Will with a solicitor years ago and they’ve gone bust- how do I find my Will?
If a law firm has gone out of business, the likelihood is that it has been taken over by a ‘succession firm’ and your Will has transferred over to the new firm. If it is not immediately apparent which firm has taken over, you can contact the Law Society who should be able to provide you with this information. You will then need to contact the new firm to confirm that they have your Will.
What is the National Will Registry? Do they keep copies of Wills in case mine gets lost?
The National Will Register (known as Certainty) is the longest-established and largest register of Wills in the UK.
Wherever you write your Will, it is up to you to then register the Will with Certainty. You can register your Will as soon as it has been signed. Certainty will not store your original Will nor a copy of it, instead they will record the storage location of your will and make a note of details such as who your executors are and the date the will was made. The contents of your Will remain private.
It is important to note that your original Will is the only valid version. Copies are not permissible.
The main advantage of registering your Will is that, when you die, if your family don’t know that a Will exists or where it is stored, a search of the register will quickly give them the information they need.
I don’t know anyone who can be my Executor?
If there are no family members, friends or other acquaintances you would like to appoint as an executor, JWALS can step in and act on your behalf at no extra cost over and above the usual Probate charges.
Get in touch
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