Wills – Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I use a solicitor to make my will?
- To help you to decide who is the best person to deal with your estate after your death (‘your executor’). In most cases, ideally your executor will be one of the main beneficiaries and based in the United Kingdom and if for example, your home is going to be sold, it can be useful (though by no means essential) if the executor lives in fairly close proximity.
- To discuss whether the executor should have a legacy to reflect his or her time and trouble
- To see whether there are any ways of saving inheritance tax
- To discuss and help you to reach decisions about your will generally, for example in case one of your children needs or deserves more of your estate than the other(s)
- If you are a childless couple with a large estate, and you support certain charities, we can structure your Will to provide for your partner and family and avoid paying any inheritance tax.
- In a second marriage case to balance provision between your first and second families
- To appoint guardians for your young children in the event of joint death
- To initiate insurance which will pay an inheritance tax bill when you die.
- Generally to discuss with a solicitor not only your wishes for your will but also whether there are better ways of making provision, for example lifetime gifts or transfer of property
- Finally to ensure that the will is valid and executed properly and not made void or partially void as many ‘do it yourself’ wills are for reasons of ambiguity and uncertainty. We make sure that the Will is expressed in modern and clear English and is easily understandable
Who keeps the original Wills?
This is for you to decide but we tend to keep the original Wills free of charge. In that case we will supply certified copies to you
What do I bring with me to the first interview?
A summary of your property and investments is always helpful ; or please complete the Wills questionnaire on our website. Also the names and addresses of those you wish to benefit
Can I make my executor a beneficiary?
Yes, and indeed it is most common in a case where there is only one beneficiary.
When should I not make an executor a beneficiary?
An executor’s duty is to administer the estate fairly and there will be many occasions where there is a conflict between the personal interests of the executor and this duty. Therefore you should think carefully about the choice of executors in the following cases:
- Where the executors and beneficiaries are your children and they don’t get on with each other
- Where the executor has had financial difficulties
- Where the executor is your business partner
- Where one of the executors has a life interest (is a ‘life tenant’)and the other benefits after the death of the life tenant
- Where the executors may not already have a good working relationship
We would be happy to discuss the various options when we discuss your Will
Can you act as executors?
McGlennons have acted as executors in more than 100 estates in value up to £5 million. We would be pleased to help.
Should the executors have a legacy?
Professional executors have a charging clause in the Will, but for lay executors (unless they receive a benefit under the Will) a legacy is advisable as otherwise they do not get compensated for their time or trouble. A legacy of 1% to 2% of the estate may be appropriate.
How long does the process take?
We will send you a first draft of your will within three days of seeing you or receiving your completed instruction form. From that point we can usually be as quick as you would like us to be in producing re-drafts or the final version. Where there is urgency (eg for peace of mind you want to get the Will finished before a holiday or serious operation) then we will do our best to offer a same day service. We will aim to be flexible and meet your needs if you have left it to the last minute as many people tend to do!
Do I need to change the Will if I move?
No. However if you have made a gift of your property, then you will need to change the Will as otherwise your intended beneficiary may get nothing. Generally, it is better to give legacies, or shares in your estate, rather than specific legacies to prevent a gift ( e g of shares or money in a particular account) ‘lapsing’ because the shares are sold or the account is moved.
If I leave everything to my husband, how can I be sure he will not marry again and my children will then lose out?
This is a common concern. The only sure way is to create a lifetime trust (i e to my husband for his life ,and then after his death to my children). However in smaller estates that can be an expensive solution, and is viewed as unduly restrictive. When making mutual Wills we can suggest an ‘underpinning agreement’ in which the surviving spouse agrees not to revoke the Will except in limited circumstances. The legal effect is still uncertain but it provides better protection to the children in the ‘second marriage’ case
I don’t want to leave my share in the house or the joint account to the coowner.
In most cases the house will go to the surviving owner whatever your Will says. In the case of a joint account, it is generally difficult to get the Bank to accept your wishes as contained in the Will. The account will go to the surviving owner. In the case of property, we can serve what is known as a Notice of Severance ( a letter saying that you wish to treat your property as belonging in divided shares) on your coowner and that will ensure your beneficiaries get their share(s) after your death. Remember that the effect of this Notice cuts both ways. If your coowner dies before you, you may only have half the house, and not all of it.