Having your will made up, while not the most cheerful of tasks, is an essential part of life. If you’re embarking on making a will, you’ve come to the right place for some sound advice. At my Norwich solicitors firm we try and help our clients save money, and protect your loved ones should the worst occur.
To begin with, if you’re asking yourself “why should I make a will”, then in all honesty you’re asking the wrong question. Why wouldn’t you? Failing to draw up a will before death, called dying “intestate” in law, means you’ll very likely leave your loved ones with a heap of anxiety, debt and worst of all, in fighting.
The risk you take is simple and best summed up by Joanna Robinson of thisismoney.co.uk: “Once all of your liabilities have been accounted for, such as outstanding loans or overdrafts, your remaining assets will not automatically go to your current spouse if you are without a will.
If you have no children, the law entitles your spouse to the first £200,000 of assets, and 50 per cent of the remainder – the rest could end up with your parents, brothers and sisters and other relatives”. So if you have a spouse the money may get to them, but rarely the exact amount you may have planned and if you have children you leave them with the tumultuous task of hashing out who gets what. A bitter family feud is never the inheritance we would like to leave our children.
Often clients will come into our Norwich Solicitors branch with no spouse or children, and I always say that it’s of equal importance for these people to get their will in order too. With no beneficiaries to receive your assets by default, it’s highly likely that all you own will end up in the hands of the crown. It’s always heartbreaking to see this happen, especially since many people without families miss out on enriching the life of an unnamed companion they may have hoped to benefit, or even a charity.
I recommend that you pay a solicitor to draw up a will on your behalf. Come to me in Norwich if you’re really stuck! For a typical fee of around £200, this will ensure your will is watertight and legally valid. It might even be that you qualify for Legal Aid on financial grounds or because you are over 70 years old. However, there is also the DIY option. You can buy a template of a will in a stationer and simply fill it in yourself. You can find out more about this on the Citizens Advice Bureau website. However, to ensure it is valid, you will need two independent witnesses – or just one if you live in Scotland – who will have to sign at the same time. A witness cannot be a beneficiary of the will, or be married to someone mentioned in the will.
Thank you for reading this introduction to will making and do come and see us in Norwich for more information.