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Making a Will: The New Year resolution you can keep

New Year’s resolutions, it’s that time of year again. Sadly for many of us though, all too often these are the same resolutions we made last year but couldn’t sustain beyond March. This year will be different though…hopefully.

So what are our resolutions this year? Alongside getting fit and quitting smoking, a common New Year’s resolution which often fails is making a Will. What generally happens is having decided to make a Will, people then put this off; concerned that it’ll be expensive, too difficult and take too long, they convince themselves that they can get by without one and end up not doing it. The result; nearly 60% of UK adults currently don’t have a Will.

The purpose of this article however is to try tackle some of those myths people use to convince themselves into not making a Will. That way, if this was one of your New Year’s resolutions or you know it’s something you need to do, it’s one less hurdle in you actually getting it done this year.

Why is a Will so important?

Contrary to what some might say, a Will remains one of the most important documents you’ll ever need.

Without one you have no control over who inherits your estate. Instead, any distribution will be determined by the intestacy rules based on how much you own and which of your relatives are still alive. This can prove particularly problematic for unmarried couples, those recently married or divorced or even those with children from previous relationships. 

Also, without a Will you cannot ensure your estate is distributed in such a way as to minimise any inheritance tax or even eliminate it altogether; and with inheritance tax charged at 40%, this can have a significant impact on your estate, particularly for homeowners or those with their own businesses.

Also, if you have young children but don’t have a Will, you’ll have no control over who looks after them once you’re gone, with this instead having to be decided through the courts. 

There is also then the fact that, having died without a Will, it can be especially difficult and expensive for your loved ones to sort out your affairs, and all this at what will no doubt be an already very difficult and stressful time for them.

Is it difficult to make a Will?

Making a Will is easier than you think and certainly not as tough as something like trying to give up smoking. As is so often the case though, the first step in actually deciding to go ahead and instructing someone is the hardest. 

Once you’ve got that far and instructed a service provider, be it a solicitor or Will writer, the process becomes much easier with whomever you’ve instructed generally able to talk you through the process, explain what you need to consider, prepare any documentation in line with your instructions and assist then with executing this. 

What’s more, once the Will is signed some providers, particularly solicitors, can then store this for safe keeping and arrange for it to be registered with the National Will Register, making it easy for your family to then retrieve should something happen to you.

How long does it take to make a Will?

Exact timescales will vary, depending on the nature of the instructions and the service provider you use, but most Will writing services and firms of solicitors can have the documents ready for signature in less than a month from receiving instructions, often even sooner. Indeed here at Scott Walby LLP, we generally try to provide these within a week. Now what other New Year’s resolution do you know of which can be achieved in that same timescale?

How much does a Will cost?

Making a Will certainly doesn’t have to be expensive, particularly when you bear in mind the potential cost it can save your family later on. It is also relatively inexpensive, when compared to something like an annual gym membership (that other New Year’s resolution on the list).

Do-it-yourself Will writing kits are available for as little £25 but unless your affairs are especially straightforward and you know exactly what it is you’re doing these are perhaps best avoided. There are after all strict rules as to what a Will must contain and how it is signed and any failure to comply with these could mean the Will you create is either ineffective, and your estate is instead subject to the intestacy rules, or alternatively doesn’t properly reflect what you’d wanted to happen.

Various Will writing services are also available, with starting prices from around £90 and these can be suitable, assuming you know what it is that you need and aren’t seeking any particular tax planning advice. These are therefore perhaps best suited to those whose estates are below the inheritance tax threshold (£325,000). It is however also worth remembering that many of these providers are not regulated or insured and so if you use one and something goes wrong, there is often no recourse against them to then put this right.

Finally most firms of solicitors prepare Wills and indeed here at Scott Walby LLP, it is one of the services we provide. Our prices can range, depending on the complexity of the instructions, but generally start from around £200 plus VAT. Our service is tailored to the individual and includes advising on inheritance tax implications and assisting with any tax planning necessary. As with all law firms, we carry professional indemnity insurance, should something go wrong and are required to keep records of your instructions, so if there are issues with the Will or it is later challenged, details of what it is you wanted can be retrieved.

No excuses!

So, in summary, there really is no excuse for not making a Will. If this therefore is something you’ve not yet done and it’s on your to-do list, why not make it one you New Year’s resolutions.  After all; it likely to be easier to achieve than a lot of the other resolutions you were considering.

If you do decide to proceed and you feel engaging a solicitor is right for you, give us a call on 01202 888 300 or email us. We’d be happy to help, making the process as easy for you as possible.

Article Date: 08/01/2019

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