Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I need a will?
Making a will is the only way to make sure that your wishes are carried out after your death. If you have not made a valid will, your property will pass under the laws of intestacy. This may have the following consequences:
•Your property may go to people you do not want to benefit,
•Your estate is likely to take longer to finalise than if you had made a valid will
•Your beneficiaries may not be able to draw any money from the estate
•It may lead to distress and arguments amongst your relatives
Why do I need to grant a Power of Attorney?
If you suddenly became seriously ill or incapacitated in a car accident or you had a stroke or a heart attack, your property could go into lock-down. It might be necessary for your family to make a costly, time-consuming application to the Court of Protection to appoint someone to manage your affairs. If no one can access your bank accounts, activate your insurance cover or continue to run your business, your financial position and that of your dependants could quickly become very serious. Choosing a trusted person to take control of your affairs, whilst you are unable to deal with them, gives peace of mind and security to you and your loved ones.
I am single and I don't have much property, why bother to make a will?
Nevertheless, you may wish for your estate to be distributed amongst your relatives, friends and charities of your choice in the proportions that you specify.
It also ensures that your loved ones are not faced with the stress of an intestacy at a very difficult time.
I am married/in a civil partnership. Surely everything will go to my partner anyway?
You cannot rely on this. Your brothers, sisters and parents may have claims against your estate. Under the intestacy rules, your children will have a right to part of your estate. This happens where you have children of a first marriage and a second marriage partner.
If you are living as an unmarried couple, your surviving partner could receive nothing at all, even if you have been living together for many years. They will not inherit your property if you do not leave a will. They may have to bring a court action for maintenance and the court may not award them as much as you would have given them by will.
Surely I'm too young? I don't need to think about this yet, do I?
It is never too early to make responsible financial decisions to safeguard your loved ones.
Can I decide who looks after my minor children in my will?
Yes. A will enables you to leave instructions for them to have guardians of your choice rather than leaving their welfare to chance. This is particularly important for single parents and unmarried fathers who do not have parental responsibility for births before December 2003. A valid will nominating guardians prevents the situation where no one knows what you would have wanted and a court decides the future of your children.
How often should I make a will?
If you have retired recently and made a will a long time ago, it probably needs updating to include additional grandchildren or to remove persons whom you no longer wish to leave anything to.
Ideally you should review your will every 3 – 5 years and particularly if you have recently married, divorced, had children or come into a substantial inheritance.
How quickly can you draft a will?
It is possible to prepare a basic will for execution in an hour, in an emergency.
The usual timescale is 14 days from first taking instructions to execution of the will.