Writing a Will seems to be one of the last things any of us wants to do or talk about and so at least a third living in Dorset haven’t written one when they die. Writing a Will should be a priority for everyone reaching old age, as if nothing else, it could affect the care funding arrangements if and when the time comes.
Key considerations when writing a Will
• Take into account all the money, property and other assets available
• The possibility that a beneficiary might die before the person making the will
• For a Will to be valid it must be signed by the author/originator and by 2 witnesses
• At least one (ideally 2) Executor should be appointed
• Whilst a solicitor isn’t required to write a Will, it’s worth taking advice to ensure the Will is interpreted when executed in the way that the Testator wished
• Use a Codicil to make very minor changes to a Will: for major changes, make a new Will which explains that it revokes all previous Wills and Codicils.
• Put it in a safe place – either at home or with the bank/solicitor or companies that store Wills – and be sure to tell the Executors where it is.
Practical reasons for writing a Will
Why your parent might need to make a Will depends on their circumstances, but one reason might be to help protect their assets after their death should their surviving spouse need long-term care that needs to be paid for. This can be achieved by establishing a Trust under the Will.
Another reason might be to save Inheritance Tax (IHT). Although changes to the rules concerning the Nil Rate Band (otherwise known as the Inheritance Tax threshold) in 2007 made it easier for some married couples to pass on their assets without paying tax, and the new rules relating to the Main Residence Nil Rate Band have increased the allowances in certain circumstances, those with complex family circumstances, or assets including their home totalling more than their combined NRBs should certainly seek advice. The current basic Inheritance Tax threshold is £325,000 per person, with the Main Residence Nil Rate Band adding an additional £100,000 per person (2017/18).
A Will for funding care for the surviving spouse
Ultimately, making a Will means everyone can be clear about what a parent’s wishes are. Making a Will also help sort out how any care for the surviving spouse could be funded should it become necessary. Unfortunately, where people die without a Will to clarify their intentions, family feuds are more common than one might expect. This is particularly the case where one or both spouses have had more than one marriage and there is extended family to consider.
Here to help to get it right
Find a solicitor – www.lawsociety.org.uk/find-a-solicitor and search under Wills and probate. There is lots of useful advice, with links below for more information: It is possible to write your own Will. There are also other organisations offering Will writing services. However, many of these do not have legally trained staff. Many home-made Wills fail each year because they have not been prepared or completed correctly. The cost and stress of resolving these situations far outweighs the cost of doing it correctly in the first place.
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