Information Unlimited

ALL THE FACTS YOU NEED TO AVOID HEARTACHE No.14 MAKING A WILL

Wills

Over pounds 2bn is left each year in the UK by people who haven't made a will.

The vast majority of disputes involving wills which reach the courts arise from home-made wills.

Over 2,000 solicitors' offices in the UK are taking part in Will Aid '98, a scheme to encourage people to prepare their will. Throughout the month of November, instead of charging to prepare wills, solicitors will ask for a donation and the money raised goes to various charities.

Reasons for having a will

By making a will, you choose who inherits your assets. If you die without a will, the state makes the decision for you and it may not be what you would want.

If you are in a relationship but unmarried, your partner will not receive anything if you die without a will.

If you are married and have children, your husband or wife may not receive everything you own unless you have a will.

If you made a will some years ago, you may need to review it to take account of changes in the law or changes in your personal circumstances - moved house, divorced etc.

Marriage or remarriage invalidates any previous will.

Divorce affects a will but separation doesn't.

If you have children, a will allows you to appoint legally guardians for them and ensure their financial security.

Tips about wills

Anyone over the age of 18 in England and Wales is eligible to make a will. The age for making a will is lower in Scotland.

To be legally binding, a will must be properly drawn up, signed and witnessed by two people. Beneficiaries or their spouses cannot be witnesses.

Partners should make separate wills

When someone dies, all their assets are frozen until probate is granted. Before the instructions in their will can be carried out, probate or official validation needs to be obtained from the local probate registry and none of their property should be sold, or given away, until it has been granted. If the estate is worth less than pounds 5000, probate is not normally required.

Both you and your partner should make separate wills.

By organising things ahead of time, you can make your will more tax- efficient. Accountants can help you divide your assets in a way which allows your beneficiaries to avoid paying so much inheritance tax.

Keep your will in a safe place and advise your executors as to where it is

A will deals with:

- the appointment of the executors;

- guardians for children;

- funeral wishes;

- distribution of property and assets;

- grants powers to the executors which they will need in order to carry out their duties properly.

Administering an estate

Executors and Administrators are people appointed to wind up the estate of the deceased. If there has been a will, executors should have been appointed. The executor settles all debts, obtains pay-outs on life insurance policies and transfers ownership of property to the beneficiaries.

You don't have to appoint a professional to administer your estate; you can appoint friends or relatives.

Who can help

Legally, you can draw up a will by yourself but if your affairs are in any way complicated, you should have it drawn up by a solicitor. If for example, you own your own business, are involved in insurance syndicates, family or charitable trusts you should definitely consult a professional.

Solicitors costs can vary from pounds 50 to pounds 1000, depending on the size of your assets and the detail required.

Banks, building societies and some life insurance companies offer will- making services but sometimes they also insist on being appointed as the executors. As they charge to do this, it should only be considered if it is difficult to appoint friends or relatives as executors.

Charities, such as Oxfam or help the Aged, sometimes offer the service, in the hope that you will leave them something in the will.

Professional will writers can be cheaper than solicitors. Contact the Institute of Professional Willwriters on 01905 611165.

DIY packs are available in stationery shops but may not be appropriate for your needs and care needs to be taken with wording. If you make an error or your instructions are not clear, your will may be rendered invalid or require interpretation by a court. For DIY advice, try Which? and Probate, pounds 10.99, and What to do when someone dies, Paul Harris, pounds 9.99

Useful numbers

Society of Will Writers - 0800 838270

Institute of Professional Will Writers - 01905 611165.

Will Aid Helpline - 0870 60 60 239

`Women Unlimited: The Directory for Life', published by Penguin at pounds 9.99

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam