Do I need a Will if I have no assets? Yes. A Will does so much more.

At LegalWills.co.uk, one of the most frequent questions we hear is “Do I need a Will?”.

When the answer is “yes”, we then hear the familiar response “But, I don’t own anything?”

If only things were that simple….

Do I need a Will?

British wealth

In 2014, the average net worth of a British adult was £147,134.  Now, depending on the equity built up in the home, if you remove that value from the net worth it still comes in at around £20,000. Therefore, even if you don’t own your own house, there could still be well over £20,000 that makes up a part of your estate after death.

According to the pension giant Aviva, most British middle aged people have typically built up private retirement savings and investments worth £53,793. Now, you might think that these figures don’t apply to you but equity can be found in unexpected sources from ISA’s to insurance plans and even the personal items you own within your house. Continue reading

Six common estate planning mistakes – getting your Will right.

Six Common Estate Planning Mistakes

Estate planning is a critical part of financial planning, but a task that often never quite makes it to the top of your To Do list. Having your final wishes clearly set out can relieve your loved ones of unnecessary stress and financial burdens. To help you along your estate planning journey we have listed 6 common mistakes that anyone can make when writing a Will.

Estate planning mistakes

Mistake #1: Assuming that Wills are only for the wealthy

According to a recent YouGov survey, nearly two thirds of the British adult population do not have a Will. Continue reading

Review of UK Online Will services – your guide to the best.

Will writing options

Before the advent of online Will writing services there were two general approaches to writing a Will. Going to a solicitor, or writing your own Will on a piece of paper. These two approaches were diametrically opposite. A solicitor would be able to provide you with legal advice, and potentially write custom clauses in your Will, but the service would cost you several hundreds of pounds.

The option of going to a solicitor was not available to everybody either because of a lack of time, or an unwillingness to pay high fees to what was perceived to be a simple instruction. So many people attempted to write their own Will starting with a blank sheet of paper, and in general terms explain how they would want their estate to be distributed. The common belief was that writing at least something on a piece of paper, was better than dying without a Will.

Online Will services

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Planned Giving – Which charities are included in Wills?

“A note on Privacy: the protection and security of the documents created on our web site are of critical importance. In particular, we cannot access any information contained in a specific Will, nor can we read a person’s Will. However, we are able to access aggregated data from an encrypted database folder that summarizes the number of times particular choices have been made within our service. We cannot connect this information to individual accounts. It is this data that has been mined to provide the information on planned giving in this article”

At LegalWills.co.uk, we help thousands of people in the United Kingdom create their Last Will and Testament through our online Will service. A Will contains a lot of important information, such as who will receive your property when you pass on and who will be the guardians of your children, and it can also serve as a great way to give back to the charities you support upon your death. Leaving money or assets to a charity is called “planned giving,” – a service that LegalWills.co.uk offers for all its Wills. According the Charities Aid Foundation, “in terms of giving money to charity (either directly or through sponsorship of an individual), 70 per cent [of people in the UK] report doing so in the 12 months prior to interview [for the study], and 44 percent do so in a typical month.”

charitable bequests

This information evidently shows that charitable giving is an important part of the lives of many people, so we were interested in the level of “planned giving” going on in the United Kingdom. According to Russell James, the number of people aged 55+ with a charitable estate beneficiary hovers between 5% an 6%. Continue reading

An Executor for your Will – how to make the best appointment

How to Choose an Executor for Your Will

One of the most important estate planning decisions that you must think about is how to choose an executor for your Will. Surprisingly, many people do not give much thought to just how important an executor is. Often the task I given to a family member without much thought about whether that person is the best for the job.

An executor has a very important role. They will be in charge of administering your estate as efficiently and promptly as possible. It is a big responsibility to undertake. You really should give some serious thought about how you choose an executor for your Will.

Executor for your Will

What Does an Executor Do?

When choosing an executor for your Will it is important to realize what role means. The executor of a will has a number of important tasks: Continue reading

Digital assets as part of your estate plan – caring for your online accounts

Digital Assets – What You Really Need to Know

Have you thought about how your digital assets would be dealt with after your death? It is something which you can easily overlook when you are making a Will. It is easy to think about houses you own, bank accounts and personal property. However, digital assets are often overlooked. This can be a huge mistake with serious consequences. Digital asset estate planning has become an essential part of the process of making a Will.

Digital assets

The age of the internet has brought us many things. Online banking, Facebook, eBay, Instagram, Cloud Computing. These are just a few of the many assets of the digital world which were unheard of not so many years ago. We used to make provision for who would get our photo albums when we died, but now we have potentially hundreds of thousands of files in the cloud. It is a whole different world that we live in now.

Digital assets and your Will

Digital asset estate planning is now relevant for most people making a Will. Your digital legacy will live on way past your death. In theory, your digital assets will live forever. It is vitally important that you consider digital asset estate planning when you are making your Will. Continue reading

Estate planning and divorce – What you really need to know

Divorce is a very stressful time and there are many things that you need to think about. One of the most crucial things that you need to address as soon as you decide to separate is estate planning and divorce.

You may already have a Last Will and Testament, but you need to change it. If you don’t have a Will you need to make one. It is very important that you understand the law relating to estate planning and divorce.

There could be very serious consequences if you do not take the appropriate steps to deal with estate planning and divorce. You need to take act now to protect yourself and your children.

Estate planning and divorce

Often people think that they can wait until after the divorce to deal with estate planning. This is a common misconception, and it can be a dangerous mistake.

What Effect Does Separation Have on my Will?

The simple answer is that separation has no effect on the status of your Will. If you die whilst you are separated from your spouse your existing Will is still valid.

You need to remember that a divorce usually takes many months to finalise. It can sometimes even take years to settle. There can be a very long time between filing a divorce and the Decree Absolute being granted, so you need to protect yourself and your children during this time.

If you have a Will which leaves everything to your spouse they could inherit everything, even though you no longer live together. Therefore, estate planning and divorce is an extremely important issue.

You can make a new Will now which will be valid after the Decree Absolute. Divorce does not invalidate a will. By planning in this way, you can make sure that your wishes of what happens to your estate are updated.

What is the Effect of a Decree Absolute on an Existing Will?

A divorce decree does not invalidate a Last Will and Testament. This a very important point. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about estate planning and divorce. This is a particularly dangerous myth.

What happens when your Decree Absolute is granted? Any gift or appointment of your former spouse takes effect as it they had died on the day that your Decree became Absolute.

In plain language, this means that if you left your whole estate to your former spouse your back up plan will come into effect. If you appointed them as a guardian or an executor this appointment is now invalid. Also, if you left a gift to your ex-spouse this will go back into your estate and be distributed in accordance with the other provisions of the will.

Will the Laws of Intestacy Help?

Everyone should have a Will. If you do not set out exactly what happens to your estate when you die, then your estate will be subject to the laws of intestacy. Most people don’t understand the consequences of this. Some people falsely believe that their children will inherit all the money anyway. This is a dangerous misconception. Here is what would happen if you died intestate.

The first £250,000 would go to your spouse. It doesn’t matter that you are separated, nor does it matter that you are waiting for your divorce to be final. Prior to Decree Absolute your spouse will inherit at least the first £250,000.

If you have an estate worth more than £250,000, half of the remainder would go to your children. The other half of the remainder would go to your spouse.

Looking at the laws of intestacy your spouse gets either the whole or the bulk of the estate and your children could get nothing.

If you do not have any children your spouse will receive the first £450,000 of your estate. Consequently, your spouse may inherit everything. Unless you have a very amicable relationship with your soon to be ex-spouse, you probably don’t want this to happen!

Do you want to leave this up to the laws of intestacy? Wouldn’t it be best simply to make a new Will? At LegalWills.co.uk it takes about 20 minutes and costs £24.95.

It is Fine – I Don’t Have Much Money

Some people will not have an estate which is very large. However, you need to think about whether this applies to you. Do you have a house which is worth more than you think? Or perhaps you have a life insurance policy which will pay out in the event of your death. You could even win the lottery! Because of this uncertainty, it is never a good idea to simply think that you will not be affected the consequences of not taking care of estate planning and divorce.

You Need to Think About Guardians for the Children

It is essential that everyone who has young children makes a Will. This is not only so that you can make financial provision for them in the event of your death. You can also appoint legal guardians for your children in your Last Will and Testament. It may be that your existing Will appoints your spouse (if they are not the biological parent of your child). After separation, you may no longer think that this is appropriate if your spouse is not their biological parent.

If you want your spouse to remain as a guardian it is also important that you make a new Will. Remember that the effect that a Decree Absolute has on an existing Will. An ex-spouse is deemed to have died on the day the Decree Absolute takes effect. This means that the appointment of them as a guardian would be invalid. If you want it to continue you should make a new Will appointing them.

Beware the Housing Trap

If you own a house jointly with your spouse you must think very carefully how to deal with this. Making the wrong decisions, or bad assumptions can result in your estranged or former spouse inheriting the house even if you make a new Last Will and Testament.

If you jointly own a house it is most likely that you own it as Joint Tenants. What this means is that you each own 100% of it. Therefore, if you die and you own a house as a joint tenant it will not become part of your estate. The other owner will inherit automatically and whatever you say in your Will about it is irrelevant. It will not be part of your estate and you cannot give it away in your Will. If you have children and this is the only asset of your estate this could mean that your spouse or former spouse inherits the house. The children may get nothing from your estate if there are no other assets.

Other ways to jointly own a home

Fortunately, there is an alternative way to own a house. You can own the house as Tenants in Common. This means that you can each own a set percentage of the house. We don’t mean your spouse owns the upstairs and you own the downstairs! It means that you can specify which percentage of the house you each own. You can own it in equal shares or any other percentage that you want to agree on. This is known as owning as Tenants in Common.

If you own a house as Tenants in Common your percentage of the house will form part of your estate. This means that you can leave your share to whoever you want to in your Will. If you don’t have a Will it would become subject to the rules on intestacy and your spouse may inherit your share. This is why it is important to make a new Will!

When you separate, you should ask your solicitor how to make any necessary amendment to how you own your house. They can give you advice about how you can easily sever the joint tenancy. This is an easy step, but you must do it in the correct way.

Estate planning and divorce – In Conclusion

It is essential that you think about estate planning and divorce. If you don’t your children and loved ones could be left with nothing from your estate. You can easily fix this, but you need to take steps as soon as possible. Making a will is easy and not expensive. Do this to protect your loved ones and have your estate distributed the way that you want it to be

 

 

 

 

 

How do you choose an Executor for your Will?

How to Choose an Executor for Your Will

Are you struggling with the question of how to choose an Executor for your Will? The role of an Executor is a very important one. You need to make sure that you are making a wise decision. Your Executor will be trusted to take care of the administration of your estate after you die.It is a very important role. You really want to make the right decision when you choose an Executor for your Will.

Here are some questions that you should ask yourself when you are considering who to appoint as your Executor when you write your own Will.

Choose an Executor

What Does An Executor Actually Do?

It is important to understand what an Executor will actually have to do. This will help you to see if the people you have in mind for the job will be able to take on these tasks.  Put simply, the role of an Executor is to carry out the wishes of the deceased person and administer their estate. However, what exactly does this entail? It is very important to know what someone will have to do before you choose an Executor for your Will. Is your choice up to the task? Will they have time to carry out all the duties of an Executor? Continue reading

Estate Plan – the seven critical documents that you need

You may have heard of the term “estate plan”. Perhaps you know it has something to do with your Last Will and Testament. But what exactly is an estate plan and how do you set one up?

In short, an estate plan is a set of documents that allow you to control your health and financial affairs when you are alive, but unable to handle them yourself, and also take care of your financial affairs after you have passed away. There are five classic documents that form a complete estate plan, but two additional documents that we feel, in 2016, that you should add to round out your plan.

They key word here is “plan”. These documents all allow you to describe what will happen if you are unable to take care of things yourself. You name individuals to take on your responsibilities and provide them with clear instructions on what to do. Which means that you can only prepare these documents when you have full mental capacity. You cannot wait until you no longer have capacity. If this ever happens to you, through illness or accident, it is then too late to prepare any of these documents.

Estate plan

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Holographic Will – clearing up some misconceptions

You may have come to the conclusion that writing your Will with a solicitor is too expensive. You have thought that maybe you could write your own Will. But when you google the topic, “writing your own Will” leads you to all kinds of conflicting information. Eventually, you find information about the holographic Will, and have become totally confused.

Please allow us to help.

Background to the misinformation

The main source of confusion is of course the Internet. The problem is that laws pertaining to holographic Wills vary quite dramatically from one country to another. If you post to a law forum, to Quora or to Reddit, the whole World will want to chip in with an answer. The problem is that an answer coming from Canada, or the US, or from India, will not apply to UK law.

Holographic Will

Here’s a great example. A question posted on uk.answers.yahoo

Hand-written Will. Is it Legal? Continue reading

Free Will Kits exposed – why they are the worst option.

“Why should I pay £24.95 for your service when there are free Will kits available everywhere?” . A reasonable enough question, so please allow us to explain.

In every high street in the UK we have seen a growth of the pound shop; Poundland, PoundWorld, Poundstretcher and just to shake it up; 99pLand.

But we all know that there are some things that you can buy with confidence from a pound store; notepads, desk organisers, colouring books, egg cups. And there are some things that you would probably think twice; smoke alarms, electricals, first aid supplies. I once saw a discount lifejacket in a pound shop. It didn’t feel right.

Product failure

So how can we establish the value of a Last Will and Testament, when what appears to be the same product is available for £1,000 from a top solicitor. But also a free download from a website. Continue reading

Want to write your own Will? 10 things to look out for.

Maybe a solicitor has quoted you a few hundred pounds to prepare your Will. Perhaps you are now considering whether you can write your own Will. You may be wondering “how hard can it be?”.

It’s entirely possible to write your own Will, but let us give you a few pointers.

Estate planning (the process of writing a Will) can be daunting. Many of us are prone to common, easily-avoided mistakes, if we get around to our Will at all. In fact, according to a report by the Legal services board, even solicitors who don’t specialise in estate planning frequently make mistakes with Wills.

The Law Society express concern that do-it-yourself Will services were eroding the Will writing business. They asked the government to protect Will writing. To make it a service that only solicitors can provide.

Write your own Will

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Naming a Guardian for Children – why you need a Will

“My husband and I are interested in creating a will. Our primary reason is to ensure our child’s care and safety. There are blood relatives that we do not feel are suited to take custody of our child. Can your service help us cover this concern in our wills? We need to name a guardian for our children.”

Guardian

Everybody needs a Will, but there is one group for whom a Last Will and Testament is invaluable – parents of young children. Writing a Will can offer you the peace of mind in knowing that your children will grow up in a loving and safe environment. A Will allows parents to make their own decisions about Guardianship by expressing their preference for who the Guardian for their children should be. A Will also allows parents to explain why their chosen Guardian would be appropriate for their child, and if all else is equal, the family courts will appoint the named Guardian in most circumstances. Continue reading

The Ten Best Reasons to Write a Will now

We know that most people have not written their Will. These people fall into two camps; the group who think it’s important, but haven’t got around to it yet, but hopefully they will write a Will at some time in the future. The second group are those who have the “why do I care? I’ll be dead anyway” approach. Although they’ve hopefully spent their life thinking of other people, they feel content simply letting their family and loved ones sort everything out once they are gone.

Unfortunately, they don’t understand that taking just 20 minutes now, can save their family from distress, acrimony, family feuds, and potentially expensive legal battles.

Write a Will

Surely I’m overstating the impact of not having a Will? Let me explain ten good reasons why you should write a Will today, based on our 15 years of experience in dealing with distraught family members whose loved one died without a Will in place.

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How to make a Will – for somebody else…today

We get this question a lot “Can you let me know how to make a Will for my parents, or an elderly neighbour?”. You may have a friend or family member who needs a Will, but they are not very good with computers. You have heard horror stories about the blank DIY Will Kits and how they don’t produce quality final documents. Surely there must be another option.

Let’s be clear from the outset. The person that you intend to prepare the Will for must have testamentary capacity. It’s one thing for them to not like computers, but if they are struggling with a cognitive illness like dementia or Alzheimer’s, then this is a non-starter. The person must know that they are working with their Last Will and Testament, they must understand the contents of that document, and they must appreciate the implications of what they are signing.

How to Make a Will

We would also recommend steering away from this approach if you are planning on making yourself a beneficiary in the Will. Particularly if other people have an expectation that they will be beneficiaries, but are going to be disinherited. For example, if you are one of three siblings, and you want to help your elderly mother prepare her Will leaving everything to yourself, there is a good chance that the Will is going to be challenged and ultimately rejected by the courts. Likewise, if you are a care provider and planning to include yourself as a beneficiary, we would not recommend taking this approach. Continue reading

How to write a Will – 5 simple steps at LegalWills.co.uk

How to write a Will

How to write a Will at LegalWills.co.uk

Most people know that they need a Will, but according to recent statistics, as many as 30 million UK adults have not made a Will. According to this report; more than half of UK adults don’t have a Will, but only ten percent of those have not even considered it.

This report breaks down the numbers of people who do not have Will. Continue reading

Here’s a discount code for a Legal Will – 10 reasons why you won’t use it.

If you step through the service at LegalWills.co.uk, you can create a legal Will for £24.95. However, if you use the following discount code, you’ll get twenty percent off. You can have a legal Will in your hands in about twenty minutes for less than twenty quid. Everybody needs a Last Will and Testament, so what on earth would stop anybody from doing this?

In reality though, we know that the price of the service at LegalWills.co.uk is not your barrier to preparing a Will.

Here’s some things that may be going through your mind that could stop you from writing your legal Will right now. Continue reading

The Will kit: 20 ways that a blank form Will kit could lead to disaster

Why do I need to pay to create a Will using your service, when I can get a free one downloaded from the internet, or buy a blank Will from WHSmith for a couple of pounds.

We get this question a lot, and it is sometimes difficult for people to fully understand the difference between using an online Will writing services like the one at LegalWills.co.uk compared to using a blank Will kit.

To illustrate the difference, we have highlighted just 20 ways in which using a blank Will kit can lead to a disaster. Because, ironically, the simpler the Will kit, the more difficult it is to write a well drafted Will. You may find it interesting that these were culled from an initial list of 45!!

1. You don’t check where the Will kit came from and who created it.

Blank Will Kit

Before you download a free Will kit template, stop and think about who actually prepared the template. Nowadays anybody can set up a professional looking legal website for free using WordPress in about 2 hours. Continue reading

The cost of a funeral: Guest Post

This is a guest post written by Juliette Kay

One of the biggest expenses that you may occur in life is one that you’ll never actually have to pay for—but your family will. It’s your funeral expenses, and the true cost of a funeral may surprise you. Here’s a rough breakdown of what you might expect to pay for various funeral options.

cost of a funeral

The average funeral, according to the 2014 Sun Life Direct Cost of Dying Reportcan cost as much as £3,590. Adding in discretionary funeral costs, and expenses associated with the administration of the deceased’s estate, the final total can rise to more than £8,000. Continue reading