A Will is a vitally important document that many people leave on their 'to do list' for some time.
Have you considered the answers to the following questions:
- What would happen if you died?
- Who would your assets pass to?
- Are all your debts paid off?
- Would your spouse inherit all of your assets?
- Is a cohabitee treated in the same way as a spouse?
- What age would your children inherit any assets?
- Who would be guardian for any children?
No matter what your circumstances it is essential that you consider making a Will to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of and your assets pass according to your wishes. Without a valid Will the law of Intestacy decided who gets what which may not reflect your wishes.
We offer fixed fees for drafting Wills and home visits are available.
For more information contact one of our team and we will be happy to arrange an appointment to see you to discuss your needs further.
Find out more information by contacting our Personal Team who will be more than happy to discuss your needs, or click on one of the links below for more information.
More often than not peoples affairs can be quite straight forward, a parent wanting to leave all their assets to their children , or a couple wanting to leave everything to each other.
A simple Will can be drafted very quickly and cost effectively to give you peace of mind in knowing that your affairs are in order.
It is always worth taking professional advice on the way in which your Will should be drafted as mistakes can end up costing dearly and can cause heart ache and confusion for those you leave behind.
Taylor Bracewell's expert Will writers based in Doncaster and Sheffield have years of experience in drafting all types of Wills, from simple Wills to more complicated tax planning trust Wills.
Taylor Bracewell can offer fixed fees for drafting Wills and home visits are also available.
Sometimes however, your needs are more complicated. It may be that you wish to try and incorporate Asset Protection into your Wills, create a Trust, or even consider some Inheritance Tax planning. Whatever your needs Taylor Bracewell's expert team are here to assist you and advise you of the best options to suit your circumstances.
Mutual Wills are something which are not often entered into or recommended by professionals.
A Mutual Will is where two people enter into Wills at the same time with the intention that they are binding upon each other. The Wills commonly provide for each other on the first death and then stipulate what will happen on the second death.
The main difference between a Mirror Will and a Mutual Will is that the latter is binding on both parties. The parties cannot unilaterally alter their Wills.
When the first person dies the assets essentially form part of a Trust. This means that the survivor has limited ways in which these assets can then be used as they have to try and ensure that the assets are ring-fenced and safeguarded for the couples ultimate beneficiaries.
If, after one party has died, the survivor attempts to change the distribution of their estate, then the law of equity will step in. This means that the survivor will be required to give effect to the deceased's wishes and the agreement that was put in the Mutual Wills.
The idea of a Mutual Will may seem ideal to many couples who want to protect their chosen beneficiaries. However, many professionals will strongly advise you against Mutual Wills as they can cause problems for the survivor, restrict the survivors use of the assets and essentially not meet your wishes.
There are often much simpler ways to achieve the same results and safeguard your assets. By talking to one of our specialist team we can help guide you through the process and advise you accordingly on what best suits your needs.
Mirror Wills are made when two people make Wills which reflect the terms of each others - for example a husband and wife may make Wills which leave everything to each other on the first death and then everything to their children on the survivors death.
With Mirror Wills each person has their own Will and is free to change it any time they may wish. Any changes to a Mirror Will do not require the consent of the other person.
There are circumstances in which a Mirror Will may not suit a couple - for example if there are children from a previous marriage/relationship, or if there is a concern that the survivor may change their Will after the first party has died and therefore disinherit the chosen beneficiaries. It is therefore essential to ensure that you take professional advice to ensure that your needs can be met and the best Will drawn up for your circumstances.
For most people their most valuable asset is their property so understandably this is the asset most people want to protect.
There are two different ways in which a property can be owned jointly;
Joint Tenants - This is when one party dies and their share automatically passes to the surviving joint owner, irrespective of what their Will states. The surviving joint owner will then own the house in full and can dispose of it however they wish during their lifetime or on their death.
Tenants in Common - This is where each party has their own separate share of the property which they can leave in their Will to whoever they wish, regardless of whether they die first or second.
There can be a number of different reasons for people to have concerns about protecting their assets. The two most common reasons are protection from care fees and protection in second marriages.
Protection from Care Fees
Many people worry about what would happen if they went into a care home and fear that their home and savings would be taken away from them to pay for their care.
At present, if a person enters full time care and they have property, savings & investments worth more than £23,250 then, generally, they will have to pay the cost of their care themselves (figures correct as at 2014/2015).
More often than not when couples make Wills which leave their whole estate to each other on the first death. This means the survivor then owns everything. The problem with this is if the survivor goes into a care home all their assets, including those of the deceased, can be taken into account towards their care fees.
Asset Protection Trust Wills can ensure that your partner can still use and benefit from your assets if you die first, but if the survivor does ever need full time care, your assets will not be used to pay for it.
It is common for a couple to make Wills leaving their estate to each other on their first death and to their children or other family on the second death. However, this may not be suitable for couples who are in a second relationship, particularly if they have children from a previous relationship.
If a couple make Wills leaving their assets to each other on the first death, then the survivor will own all of the combined assets. The problem with this is the survivor is free to change their Will at any time and the first parties chosen beneficiaries could be cut out completely. The survivor could remarry which would mean their Will would automatically be revoked and, again, the chosen beneficiaries of the first to die will lose out.
Asset Protection Trust Wills can ensure that your assets, or share of joint assets, are received by the beneficiaries you choose, regardless of who dies first.
How Asset Protection Trust Wills Work
A Trust is basically a legal arrangement, which in this case is included in your Will.
The Trustees are the people responsible for handling the Trust after your death and, in most cases, are the same people as the Executors you appoint in your Will. The Trustees can include your partner and any beneficiaries you include in your Will. There must be at least two Trustees, preferably three.
There are various types of Trust which can be included in Asset Protection Trust Wills. All of the options can be discussed with you to see what best suits your circumstances.
One of the most popular type of Asset Protection Trust Wills is a Life Interest Trust. This is where the survivor can use the share of their property owned by the first to die for the rest of their life before the share passes on to the next generation. This means that the survivor can continue to occupy the family home for as long as they need to. The advantage of this is that if the survivor ever needs full time care, only their own share of the family home can be assessed towards care fees. The share of the property of the first to die can not be assessed towards care fees as the survivor does not own it, they only have the right to use it.
It is common for a couple to leave their cash, investments and personal possessions to each other outright and for only their property to be subject to an Asset Protection Trust Wills as doing so will have no significant impact on the survivor's day to day life or standard of living.
A life interest Trust for a share of property in Asset Protection Trust Wills is extremely flexible and if they wish to do so, the survivor can decide to move to a new property and use all of the money from the sale of the property to purchase a new property which would be held on exactly the same terms.
Asset Protection is a very specialised area of law and it is essential that you take professional advice to ensure your wishes are met.
The options which best suit your needs will depend on what your assets are, your circumstances, who you wish to benefit and what worries you have. Here at Taylor Bracewell our expert team can guide you through all the different options which would suit your needs and advise you of all the advantages and disadvantages accordingly. We believe in providing you with all the information to enable you to make an informed decision.
For more advice on Asset Protection or any area of Personal Law contact Taylor Bracewells Expert team. To discuss your circumstances, or arrange to meet with one of team to discuss your circumstances in more detail please contact us on 01302 341414 or 0114 2721884 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Asset Protection
- Discretionary Trust Wills
- Lifetime Trusts
A Discretionary Trust is a flexible trust which enables you to name several possible beneficiaries and leave your Trustees the discretion as to who receives what, when and how. This can be a very useful tool if you have beneficiaries who are young, or beneficiaries with differing needs, a beneficiary who has alcohol, drug or gambling problems, a beneficiary whose spouse you do not like etc etc… the list goes on.
Within a Discretionary Trust your trustees can decide whether anyone should receive the money and when. The Trustees have the discretion to pay income to beneficiaries, or to delay any payments for a number of years (up to a maximum of 125 years).
Discretionary Trusts are a great way of trying to ensure your wishes are met in ever changing circumstances. However they are very complex and there can be tax implications depending on your estate so it is always essential to take professional advice before entering into any form of Trust.
Making a Will is a priority. A Will ensures that when you die your estate passes to who you want, how you want. However in order to make a Will you must have the mental capacity to do so.
What happens if someone has lost mental capacity before making a Will, or they have made a Will but its years out of date and would not reflect their wishes?
What happens if someone has suffered a serious brain injury or illness which means they do not have the mental capacity to make a Will?
In these circumstances it is possible to make an application to the Court of Protection to make, or change, a Will on behalf of someone who is not mentally capable of doing this themselves.
The application process is quite detailed and can take some time to complete. The process required you to submit various forms to the Court detailing the persons personal circumstances, their family arrangements, details of their finances, details of any former Wills… the list goes on.
In addition to the you may be require to notified certain people of what you are doing, such as the persons family, or beneficiaries of their existing Will. It may even be necessary to attend a hearing at Court to discuss the application in person.
An application to the Court of Protection can be complex and time consuming, and we would always advise that you take advice on making such an application.
For more advice on Court of Protection Work or any area of Personal Law contact Taylor Bracewell's Expert team.
When making a Will it is often necessary to consider appointing a guardian. This is the person who will look after your children in the event that anything happens to you before they turn 18.
The guardian will be responsible for bringing up your children so it is essential that you choose someone that you trust and that has similar views to you… as well as ensuring that the chosen guardian is happy to take on the role. It is possible to choose more than one guardian to act, or to name a backup guardian in case your first choice is unable to act.
The first thing to consider if whether you have Parental Responsibility for your children. This means that you have various rights and responsibilities in relation to them. All mothers automatically have Parental responsibility for their children, but not all father do.
A father will automatically have Parental Responsibility if he was married to the mother at the date of birth, if he is named on the birth certificate (for births since 1 December 2003) or if he jointly registered the birth with the mother. A father can also acquire Parental Responsibility if he marries the child's mother, has a formal Parental Responsibility Agreement with the mother, or if the Court grant an order granting this.
In certain circumstances Parental Responsibility may also be granted to other people, for example to same sex parents or step parents.
If you have Parental Responsibility then it is essential to ensure that you appoint a Guardian to look after your children in the event of your death, especially if you are the only person with Parental Responsibility. For more information about appointing a guardian please contact one of our team and we will be happy to arrange an appointment to see you to discuss your needs further.
If you do not have Parental Responsibility, and would like more information about this our family team would be more than happy to assist you.
The thought of making a Will often worries people, as if they are tempting fate in making their 'Last Will and Testament'. This is not the case. A Will is peace of mind and a way of ensuring that your loved ones are protected and your wishes are met in very difficult times.
Making a Will is vitally important as dying without a Will can become complicated and messy. However making a badly drafted Will can cause just as many problems. So, what do you need to know? Here are some of the questions we often get asked by our clients:
Can anyone make a Will?
Anyone over the age of 18 can make a Will provided they have the required mental capacity to do so. There are special circumstances where people under the age of 18 can make Wills when they are in the armed forces on active service. This is a very specialist area of law which not many people are aware of. For further information on this please do not hesitate to contact one of our team and we will be happy to advise you further.
Why do I need a Will?
A Will ensures that your wishes are met when you die, it ensures that your loved ones are protected and everything is in order at a very difficult time.
Can I write my own Will?
Yes you can, but we wouldn't advise it. There are strict legal requirements as to how a Will is made, how it is signed and how it is witnessed. If any of these formalities are not met with it can cause the Will to be invalid so it is essential to take professional advice on such an important document.
A professionally drafted Will can be a very inexpensive document to have drawn up. A professionally drafted Will can actually save you move in the long run by either effectively Inheritance Tax Planning or by incorporating Asset Protection into your Will.
Can anyone witness my Will?
No. There are strict rules as to who can be a Witness to your Will and failure to follow these rules can either invalidate your Will or cause the gifts in your Will to fail. This is obviously very serious and makes it all the more important to take professional advice in this regard.
What are Executors?
Executors are the people who sort things out when you die. Executors generally arrange the funeral, inform people of your death, contact your asset holders to notify them of your death and generally deal with the administration of your estate.
You are free to make your own choices regarding the executors of your Will. The law however requires that any executor must be over the age of 18. It is also important that you trust the individuals you are choosing as executors and that they are willing to accept the responsibility. It is not uncommon for people to appoint between two and four executors. They are usually family members or close friends.
Solicitors and banks can however also be appointed as Executors of your Will and there will be a charge attached to such appointments. Many clients prefer the neutral role of solicitors and banks as executors of their Wills.
Our Will Writing specialists will advise you on the appointment of Executors at an appointment to discuss your Will.
What are beneficiaries?
Beneficiaries are the people you choose to leave assets to in your Will. The beneficiaries of a Will can be anyone you choose including family, friends or even charities.
Sometimes you may wish to leave assets to people in certain circumstances of for certain reasons and this can be reflected in your Wills - for example, if you wanted a child to have to attain the age of twenty one before they could inherit their share of any inheritance.
Can I leave someone out of my Will?
Yes. You can leave any family member out of your Will if you want to. In England we have testamentary freedom which means we can leave our assets to who we want when we die.
HOWEVER, you should bear in mind that certain excluded individuals, especially those who are dependent on you financially, may be able to dispute your Will under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
If you wish to exclude someone who might ordinarily expect to inherit from your estate, our Will writing experts can advise you accordingly. We can also prepare an additional statement explaining your reasons for leaving the individual out. This will require your signature at the same time as you sign the Will. Such a statement would be taken into account should a dispute arise after your death. If you are considering leaving someone out of your Will, please speak to us today and we will skilfully guide you through.
Where should I store my Will?
Your Will and related paperwork such as details of your assets should be kept in a safe place. Most of our clients keep their Wills in our Will Bank and we do not make any charge for this. It is part of our service.
Wherever you choose to keep your Will it is important that the Executors are aware of where the Will is kept.
How often should I review my Will?
In our experience many people are unaware that certain changes in their circumstances may affect their Wills and in some cases, revoke their Will completely.
Wills made before marriage are subsequently revoked upon marriage for instance, and the same applies to civil partnership. Divorce, children and your financial position will all have a bearing on your Will.
We therefore always advise our clients to review their Wills regularly. Our experts will amend your Will as necessary with an appropriate codicil, or draw up a new Will which is more suitable to your circumstances.
Speak to us today about your existing Will and any changes in your family or financial circumstances to find out how it affects your Will.
We are here to guide you through every step and ensure that all the rules are complied with. We are also here to assist and offer expert legal advice and guidance if you are dealing with the administration of an estate.
If you have any reason to believe that your loved one's Will may have been tampered with or amendments effected when they lacked capacity, speak to one of our experts about Contentious Probate.
We will give your concerns serious consideration and apply our extensive legal knowledge to the matter. Disputing or contesting a will can be very stressful especially when you have just lost a loved one. We will remove as much of the stress and provide clear legal assistance to help you through this difficult situation.