Will writing, power of attorney, probate Simply Wills' FAQs

FAQ

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Do you have any questions? Click on the questions below to read the answers.

1. How much does making a will cost?

Answer:
Wills are individual and personal and depend entirely on the circumstances, wishes and concerns of the person making the will, the cost will reflect this.

You can make a will online or by buying a template for a few pounds but these do not normally allow you to fully express your wishes and may leave loose ends and uncertainties. Worse still the document may fail at probate after you have died. By then it will be too late for you to be concerned but you may have left untold problems for your loved ones to deal with. By discussion with a qualified will writer you can be certain that your wishes are properly and completely expressed in your will.

Wealth warning: Do check that people offering low cost wills are qualified, a member of a professional body such as the Society of Will Writers and Estate Planning Practitioners and have Professional Indemnity Insurance so that if things do go wrong your family have somewhere to go for redress.

Having said all this, investing in a will today will ultimately prove to be one of the best financial investments in terms of return you ever made

When we have discussed your affairs with you we will quote a fixed price for the work. There is normally no charge for an initial consultation.

Our prices start from under £100 and always include two visits to your home: firstly to give advice and take your instructions; secondly to go through your documents with you so that you understand what they say and then to ensure that they are properly signed and witnessed and therefore legally valid.

2. What will happen to my estate if I don’t make a will?

Answer:
Few people realise what dying without having a valid will mean to those they leave behind. In all such cases the state decides who will inherit, the rules from 1st October 2014 are:

For married couples with children, except for their jointly owned assets –

  • the survivor inherits the first £250,000 together with personal effects;
  • ½ the remaining assets go to the survivor; and
  • the remaining ½ to the children on attaining 18 years of age.

Those married with no children and those in a Civil Partnership (unless the children are adopted), except for their jointly owned assets –

  • the survivor inherits everything.

For single people and for co-habiting couples (for whom the situation is draconian especially if the partner who dies owns any property solely):

  • any children in equal shares at 18 years of age, if none:
  • the deceased’s parents, if none:
  • his/her siblings, if none:
  • his/her grandparents, if none:
  • his/her aunts/uncles, if none:
  • the Crown.

3. How long will it take to make a will?

Answer:
It depends on your personal circumstances. However, we will give you a list of things for you and your partner to think about before we meet, then it will take usually much less than an hour for us to discover about you, your family, your wishes and concerns, give advice and then make recommendations. When you have decided to proceed it takes about 20 minutes to capture the necessary information to enable the documents to be produced.

4. What is a lasting power of attorney and do I need one?

Answer:
There are few certainties in life and no one can predict what will befall them. If you become physically or mentally incapacitated through injury, illness or the effects of age and you have not made provision for someone else to deal with decisions about your property and affairs and/or health and welfare the court will appoint a deputy over your affairs.

The appointment of a deputy is a long, impersonal and expensive process during the course of which your loved ones will not be able to access your finances or make decisions about your health and welfare needs.

This can all be avoided by making a Lasting Power of Attorney (these were formerly called “Enduring Power of Attorney”) appointing those you love and trust as your attorneys so, if the unthinkable happens, they can legally take over decision making for you if required.

Can you afford to be without a Lasting Power of Attorney?

5. Who should I choose as my executors and trustees?

Answer:
This is entirely up to you but you should carefully consider the following:

  • do I completely trust this person? If not don’t appoint him/her.
  • is this person likely to be alive when I die? Unless there are special circumstances don’t appoint someone from the previous generation
  • does the person have the necessary skill and experience to fulfil the role of my personal representative and deal with my estate as I have directed? If not make provision in your will for a professional to act.

It is usual to have your spouse/partner as your executor and trustee and one or more of your adult children. In normal circumstances we would suggest at least two family executors. In addition you may like to consider naming a professional organisation that will resign if the family do not want it to act. In our view when wills call for trusts to be established it is important to consider a professional executor and trustee.

6. How can I provide for special people, for example disabled children and vulnerable beneficiaries?

Answer:
You can make provision in your will for a trust to hold your assets on your death for the benefit of a disabled child without affecting any means tested benefits he/she may be receiving.

Trusts are also useful to hold assets for vulnerable beneficiaries and against the effects of profligacy, divorce and bankruptcy amongst your beneficiaries. The beneficiaries have the benefit of the trust assets but do not own them.

7. How can I make sure that if I die first my children will still inherit if my partner remarries?

Answer:
There are a numbers of ways of achieving this; one of the most common is to leave a part of your estate in your will in trust for your children and to give your surviving spouse the right to use this asset conditionally for life.

8. I have life insurance, death in service benefits from my employer and/or a pension scheme, will these count towards my Inheritance Tax Allowance?

Answer:
It depends how the policies and plans were written. If there are no beneficiaries or nominees specified then the payment will be part of your estate and count towards IHT. Many of these products can be written in trust and thus never fall into your estate.

You should look at insurance policies and pension plans from time to time and if your circumstances change to make sure they are effective, good value and that payment would go as you wish. We can recommend Independent Financial Advisors who are qualified to help you.

9. What is the threshold for Inheritance Tax?

Answer:
If you are not married or in a civil partnership and your estate (this is everything you own including your house and business if you have one) is valued at more than £325,000 (the Nil Rate Band (NRB)) then it will be liable to Inheritance Tax (IHT) at 40% on the value over the NRB. For example a £500,000 estate will be required to pay £70,000.

If you are married or in a civil partnership then the proportion of NRB unused on the first of you to die can be carried forward and utilised on second death. Meaning that the second to die could have a NRB of £650,000.

Be aware that unmarried couples will not get the carried forward allowance so it remains essential for you to make wills which ensure that liability to Inheritance Tax is minimised on first death and you both benefit from your NRB allowances.

If you have any further questions please call us on 01908 866541 or send us an email

How can we help?

Call us today on 01908 866541
or send us an email