Will writing service – what to look for in a Will writing company.

Every single adult should have a Will in place, but most do not. If you are reading this, you may have given some thought to writing a Will, but not sure how to get started. You have seen different approaches to writing a Will, but you are not sure which services offer a quality, affordable Will writing service, without questionable extras. Hopefully this overview will help you take the next step.

Why you need a Will.

A Will allows you to describe the distribution of your estate. It puts somebody in charge of the process, and it allows you to do things like name a guardian for your children, make charitable bequests and set up trusts.

If you die without a Will, the courts take over. Your family and loved ones will have to work their way through a court process that will eventually do the work of your Will, but probably not the way you would have wanted.

The courts will put somebody in charge of the process. Hopefully this is somebody with the administrative skills needed, and a person who has a good rapport with your family and your beneficiaries. They are going to have to work with the people you have left behind to distribute everything you own according to a legal formula. In the meantime your assets will be frozen.

Then your assets will likely be liquidated and divided according to the laws of “intestate succession”. If you are married without children, then it is possible that your intended distribution plan would match the intestate succession plan. But in almost every other case, your assets will be divided in a very strange way.

Dying without a Will Continue reading

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

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

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.

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.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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 kit 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

Will writing: the regulation of the profession.

There has been a great deal of discussion recently regarding the regulating of Will writing as a profession. On first glance it would seem strange that anybody can simply call themselves a “Will writer” and offer their services to prepare people’s Wills. So much so that the industry became quite competitive and aggressive, and we started to get accosted Continue reading

Can you use a sample Will to write your own Will?

Most people know that they need a Will, but many are put off by the cost of going to a solicitor, and the inconvenience of booking an appointment. Unfortunately, this leads people to resort to some poorly judged approaches to preparing their own Will – we are often asked if we can provide somebody with a sample Will, from which they can draft their own Last Will and Testament.

Sample Will

There are a few steps to this process and trouble at each step of the way;

Locating a sample Will

For the people who don’t contact us asking for a sample Will, most will simply Google the search term “sample Will” in the hope that they can find a template Continue reading

Writing a Will: why there is nothing to fear

Many people try to lead you into thinking that writing a Will is so complicated that only a qualified solicitor with years of training should attempt it. You have probably been told that attempting to write your own Will is only going to lead to misery for your loved ones. One of the most common scare-tactics is to compare writing a Will with performing surgery on yourself !

We have explained in the past that writing a Will is neither so complicated that it needs a professional, but nor is it so easy that you could just write one on a blank piece of paper. It is somewhere in between, and it is this mid-ground that LegalWills.co.uk tries to fill with its interactive online Will service.

So what makes a Will a Will?

The answer to this question hasn’t changed Continue reading

Writing your Will: 10 key steps to getting it done right.

We’ve been offering a service to help you prepare your own Will for 14 years now. To us, the task couldn’t be simpler. But as with anything that you only do a few times in your life, the process can seem intimidating. So we’d like to breakdown the steps involved in writing your Will. Hopefully after reading these pointers, you will feel less anxious and ready to finally cross this very important item off your To Do list.

Preparation

There are some important decisions to make before you start the process of writing your Will. Some of these require consultation with friends and family members. At LegalWills.co.uk we do not expect you to complete your Will in one sitting, but if you can discuss some of these decisions Continue reading

12 reasons to use an Online Will service instead of a DIY Will Kit

I’d like to start by defining some terms. An Online Will service allows you to step through an interactive interview on the internet, at the end of which a document is generated. This document should then be printed and signed in the presence of two witnesses to create a legal Last Will and Testament. There is no such thing as an “online Will” – any digitally stored or scanned document is not legally admissible to probate. A document created through an online Will service still needs to be printed and signed to make it legal.

A DIY Will Kit is a blank form kit that you might buy from Amazon, or WHSmiths. It is generally a form with some typed clauses and white spaces for you to handwrite your details. They sometimes come with a disk that lets you type in your answers.

This image is from a genuine Will kit that we purchased for £10 from a Continue reading

10 terms you will learn when you write your Will

When you prepare a Will using our service, the final document will include many legal terms and unfamiliar language that we do not tend to use in our daily lives. There will be expressions like “testamentary dispositions” and you won’t find a layman’s word like “everything” instead the Will is going to refer to “all my estate, both real and personal whatsoever and wheresoever” which for most people would amount to the same thing.

Last Will and Testament

There are however 10 terms that there is no avoiding when preparing a well-drafted Will, and it is important to fully understand what they mean. They usually appear in this order in the Will;

Testator

This is simply the person Continue reading

Challenging a Will

I heard that if I create a Last Will and Testament using our service like yours, it can be challenged or contested. Is that true?

 

The short answer is yes, our Wills can be contested, but not simply because they were created using our service. Any Will can be contested, but there are a specific number of reasons why challenging a Will could be successful.

The person making the Will was not fully aware of what they were doing

The legal term for this is that they “lacked testamentary capacity”. The colloquial term is that they were not of “sound mind”. The person writing the Will should understand that they are indeed preparing a Will, and be fully aware of the content. They should be Continue reading