This company complies with the I.P.W. Code of Practice

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Should I make a Will?

Yes. If you don't make a Will then on your death you will have died intestate. This can be as painful as it sounds for your loved ones who may suffer financial hardship and distress at a time when they least need it, whilst your affairs are sorted out. You will have no control over who will inherit what you own. On an intestacy who inherits what depends on which of your relatives is alive at your death and how large your estate is. Spouses may not receive everything and charities, friends and unmarried partners will definitely receive nothing. If you are a parent of young children then you will have no control over who looks after them should anything happen to you. In such circumstances, the courts will appoint someone on your behalf - someone that you may not have chosen.

2. We currently own our home as joint tenants is this the best way?

Most people who co-own their home with another person do so as Joint Owners. On the death of a Joint Owner, the property AUTOMATICALLY transfers to the sole name of the survivor - who can then do what they want with the property. However this can cause problems:

• If the survivor then remarries, it is possible that the whole of the house will then pass to their new spouse on their death, thus disinheriting the children of the first marriage.
• If the survivor has to go into a Nursing or Residential Home, as the sole owner of a property, the Local Authority has powers to charge the cost of care against the value of the whole house, again disinheriting your children.
The answer to both of these problems, is to change the way you own your home from Joint Owners to Tenants in Common - a straightforward process that doesn't involve your mortgage company even if your property is mortgaged.
As Tenants in Common, each owner, using a Will, has the power to do what they want with their share of the property on their death, including leaving it to their children rather than their spouse - we do, however, recommend provisions are also made in the Will to prevent the surviving spouse being forced out of the home.

3. Who should I get to write my Will?

Be careful there are cowboys out there the Willwriting industry is unregulated. Ask for advice if the solicitor or Willwriter is not prepared to give it walk away. We recommend a solicitor or a member of the Institute of Professional Willwriters. All Members of the Institute of Professional Willwriters
• are qualified by examination to write Wills and associated documents
• have £2million Professional Indemnity Insurance cover to protect their clients
• have undergone a criminal records check
• undertake regular refresher training to update their knowledge
• are subject to the IPW disciplinary Code of Conduct

4. I have seen wills advertised at £40 in the local paper are they any good?

Quite often this may be a ploy to get in front of you to sell you something that is a lot more expensive. I could not produce a Will for £40. To travel to see someone, spend one hour discussing their circumstances and taking instructions, writing the Will, sending out drafts and then travelling out to supervise the attestation having taken out expenses I would be below minimum wage. Draw your own conclusions.

5. I have heard that it is easier and cheaper to do a Will online or using a “Will making kit” from a book shop.

A Will is an individual, personal document to suit your particular circumstances and needs to be written with skill and precision in order to ensure that it does what you want, how you want it. To do this adequately requires a face-to-face discussion to consider your wishes and circumstances and how they can be incorporated clearly whilst minimising administration, potential disputes and taxation. Even questions need to be clearly defined and understood before they are answered. For example:

a. If you were asked, "how many children do you have?” would you know whether to include natural children, step-children, illegitimate children, foster children or adopted children?
b. If you were asked to put an approximate value of your estate in order to minimise Inheritance Tax liability, would you know what to include, and what could be discounted?
c. If you put the wrong figure on a questionnaire, it could make a total nonsense of the resulting Will. Everything that you have worked for is covered by your Will. It makes no sense whatsoever to risk it all by cutting corners. A qualified and experienced specialist is vital to the process. It is only through an in-depth discussion that you can be assured that your Will is appropriate to all of your individual needs and circumstances and most effective in limiting taxes and unnecessary legal costs.

6. I am Widowed. Should I gift my home to my children and continue to live in it to avoid it being sold to fund my care costs?

a. A local authority can ignore the transaction, without limit of time, if they consider that it was done to avoid paying long-term care fees.
b. The value of the house will be added back into your estate for the calculation of Inheritance Tax.
c. Unless your children live with you, the house will be subject to Capital Gains Tax on its increased value from the date of the transfer.
d. If your children become involved in a marital dispute or financial difficulties, your home may be considered to be part of their assets.
e. Income Tax will be payable on the rental value of your home, even if you are not actually paying rent.

7. I have been advised that I should store my Will rather than keeping it at home. Is this a good idea?

If the original, signed and witnessed Will cannot be produced the testator will normally be presumed to have destroyed it, and to have died intestate. A copy may prove that a Will was made, but not that it was in force at the time of death.

8. I have an inheritance problem and I would like to give money to charity. How do I know it will not be wasted?

First of all your money donated to your selected charity will be inheritance tax free. Many people give to charities during their lifetime, but the extent of their generosity is limited by their means, and other spending priorities. On the basis of the truism that "we are all worth more dead than alive", a Will may offer the opportunity to be more generous.

It is also an appropriate time to show a final appreciation for any help and support that you, or a loved-one, may have received from a particular charity. It was there to help through the generosity of others, it will be available to those who follow through your benevolence.

When choosing a charity that you wish to benefit in your Will, it is important to ensure that you properly identify the exact charity that you have chosen. Otherwise your gift could bring about rancour, argument or even legal proceedings.
This is best done by quoting the Charity Registration number allocated to the individual organisation by the Charities Commission. You should also consider, and make clear, whether you intend the bequest for the national body, or a local or regional branch, where that kind of structure exists. Although charities would generally prefer that you didn't, you can specifiy the purposes for which your bequest is to be used. In addition it is prudent to provide for circumstances in which a charity may have closed, or merged with another, after the writing of your Will.