We all know it’s important to make a will for our family, but many of us don’t have one in place. Is it time you found out more about what’s involved? In honour of Remember a Charity in Your Will Week, 09-13 September 2019, here are your wills questions answered.
Wills question 1: do I really need to make a will?
If you have any assets, particularly if you own a house, it’s important you have a will to make sure they go where you want on your death. Plus, it will make things easier for your loved ones: dealing with your estate is quicker and usually cheaper if you have a will.
Even if you think your affairs are straightforward, things may be more complicated than you realise. Our advice is always that you should have one in place.
Wills question 2: do I need a solicitor to make a will?
Not necessarily. You can write a will yourself, or obtain a style will to complete yourself. However, there can be problems with wills which haven’t been written or signed properly. A solicitor can make sure your will is valid and properly reflects your wishes. They can also advise you about issues you might not have thought of, such as inheritance tax.
Wills question 3: what will happen to my estate if I don’t have a will?
It depends on your situation, such as whether you are married, have children and who your nearest relatives are.
If you are married, your spouse or civil partner will receive a certain amount of assets from your estate. If your estate is worth more than that amount, your children will receive a share as well. If you don’t have children and your estate is above the amount that passes to your spouse, your parents, siblings or other, more distant, relatives might inherit the rest of your estate.
If you have an unmarried partner, they won’t automatically inherit. If you were living together at the date of your death they could make a claim against your estate, but that would mean a court action.
Wills question 4: is it expensive to make a will?
It doesn’t have to be. At Gibson Kerr we have a fixed fee package for wills and powers of attorney. Contact us if you’d like to discuss costs.
Wills question 5: how long does it take?
It usually takes a few weeks from when we first meet you to you having your will signed.
If needed, we can prepare a will very quickly and can even have a will prepared and signed the same day.
Wills question 6: do I need to know details of everything I own?
It’s useful if you come to your solicitor with a list of your assets and estimated values. This helps them know if there are any specific issues to deal with. It also helps them advise you on whether inheritance tax will be payable. Additionally, you should think about whether you want to leave any specific items that you own to anyone.
Wills question 7: can my will contain my wishes about things other than my estate?
You might include funeral plans, if you have any. Anything else you wish to cover in your will can be included in a separate document, a “letter of wishes”, which would be stored with your will.
Wills question 8: do I need to tell my family what I have put in my will?
No. The contents of your will are confidential to you, unless you decide to tell anyone what your will says. You may, however, wish to let the people you have appointed as executors know, and let them know where your will is stored. They will need it after you die.
Wills question 9: what if I want to make changes to it?
You can change your will at any time. This can be done either in a codicil, making amendments to your will, or a with a new will.
Wills question 10: what if I have another child and they aren’t named in the will?
We normally try to cover the possibility of you having more children. For instance, you can leave your estate to your existing children and any other children you may have in the future. This means your will doesn’t need to be updated if you have another child.
It is, however, a good idea to review your will regularly anyway to see if any updates are needed.
Wills question 11: do I need to make a will with my partner, or separately
You each need to make your own individual will. However, if you both wish to do this at the same time and are happy letting each other know what’s in your will, you can have a meeting at the same time and go through the process together.
Contact us about making a will
At Gibson Kerr, our Personal Law Solicitors in Edinburgh and Glasgow will talk you through each of these points when we have a will meeting with you. If you would like to arrange a meeting, or have any questions about the process, please do not hesitate to contact us. We offer fixed fees for wills and powers of attorney.