Many times people come to us and may have a very straightforward situation where they are simply leaving all of their estate to their spouse or partner or a simple equal division between children or nieces or nephews. Other times the situation might be a little more complicated. This sometimes arises depending on what stage in life you are at. If you have a single person making a will, then his or her commitments are not quite as onerous as say someone with a young family. The person with a young family will generally make a will with his or her spouse and leave their estate to a number of trustees, who would oversee the management of the estate until the youngest child turns 21 years. This type of will is aimed at dealing with tragic circumstances where both parents have died and young children are left behind.
Moving on to later stages in life, where say, children reach adulthood, people often become more specific in how to share assets. They obviously need to take into account their spouse, and then decide how to divide assets between their adult children. We are finding more and more that people are leaving assets to be divided equally between children and we are finding fewer situations, where a house or other large asset is left to one child over and above other children. This is in part due to people living longer and children having already made their own commitments to buying a house during their parents’ lifetime.
We are asked many times by people making wills….”what should I do about my will”. Our reply will always be that it is your will and only you can tell us what it is that you want to achieve and who you want to benefit from your estate. We then advise and help you in making those decisions and advise you to take specialist advice on possible taxation issues for your beneficiaries. You need to know that if you leave a legacy for someone, what tax that person is likely to pay on it. It may change your mind on how much you wish to leave a person or prompt a discussion on other ways of dealing with the bequest.
When we meet clients we always meet them on their own. The Law Society has set out guidelines on dealing with instructions for wills. It is important that someone making a will feels comfortable about giving instructions freely and that they are not under any pressure from any third party. We ensure this happens by taking instructions from you when you are on your own. Sometimes a person might feel more comfortable with another person in the room as this puts them at their ease and we don’t object to this initially but we would ask that friend or relative to leave to ensure that we are getting instructions from you without interference.
Your will is an extremely private document. Nobody will see you will until you have passed away.
You are under no obligation to give anyone a copy.
You are under no obligation to tell anyone what is in it.
You are under no obligation to tell someone they are an executor.
You can change your will as many times as you wish.
You should tell somebody that you have made a will.