Some Misunderstandings with regard to Making a Will and Lasting Power of Attorney

With the continued Covid 19 Virus still with us, the National Press and various articles that we see, often leave the details about making a will and a Lasting Power of Attorney in some confusion.

We therefore give below some definitive answers to questions we are often asked;

‘I already have a will – I don’t need a new one.

You already have a will in place – well done this is the first step. Do you know where it is? Even if you already have a will in place, it is best to keep under review to make sure it matches your personal circumstances, after all, you won’t purchase a car and assume it doesn’t need any maintenance for the rest of your life.

We have always had a policy within the company to suggest to clients that they should review their will once every three to five years, or certainly when their circumstances change due to marriage, divorce, birth of new children or grandchildren, or the death of a beneficiary or even coming into some money. Also make sure you keep abreast of any changes in the law that effect your planning, so you can ensure that your will is affective as possible.

‘Everything will go to my partner anyway’

This is a very dangerous assumption that is common place, and one that we face on a regular basis. For some people this is actually correct, but are you sure it is true for you?

If you die without making a will, the ‘Rules of Intestacy’ will apply and your estate will be distributed to, serving relatives by strict hierarchy.

If you are married, or in a civil partnership and you have no children, if you die, then all of your assets will pass to your spouse or civil partnership. This is also the case for married couples, or civil partners who have children, but those are for estates that are valid at less than £250,000.  For everybody else the situation is much more complicated.

If you or your partner are unmarried or have not entered into a Civil Partnership, then the rules of intestacy are not your friend. Intestacy does not recognise these relationships, so your partner would receive no benefit from your estate. The concept of ‘Common Law Marriage’ is only a myth, and there is no legal basis for it.

Making a Will is Complicated.

Making a Will does not have to be a complicated process. You can see a skilled professional and a Will Writer in the comfort of you home, at a time of your choosing. The current Covid 19 regulations allows us to take instructions for a will via email, letter or over the telephone, and where necessary we can use modern technology, such as Zoom to connect to you through your computer/IPad or mobile phone. Most mobile phones will have this facility.

By putting a will in place, you have given yourself peace of mine, because you know that your affairs will be in order, you will also know your family or those that are important to you will be taken care of.

We are currently guaranteeing that if we receive a will instruction we will have a draft will be back to you within 24 hours.

‘Once I have written a will, it cannot be changed’

This is another question we hear often, and there appears a general fear that once you have made a written will that’s it.  Well thankfully that is not the case, as long as you retain the mental capacity to make a will, you are totally free to revoke it, and or write a new a will at any point

‘I need a solicitor to write a will’

Whilst we certainly recommend a professional to write your will, it does not have to be a solicitor. At the latest count, there were nearly 4,000 professional will writers within the Country who are specialist in writing wills.

‘My family will sort out everything between themselves once I have gone’

Unfortunately, if you die without a will your family will not be able to distribute your estate however they wish. Your estate as said before, will pass according to the rules of intestacy, which is essentially the will that the Government has written for you. The only way to guarantee your assets pass to whom you want them to, on death, is to have a will.

‘Wills are for the rich – I don’t have anything to give’

Most people have something of value when they die. You may not be rich, you may not own your own home, but often people who do own their own home, and have a limited amount of assets think a will is not for them. A home is your major asset, and these days it can be of considerable value.

Whether there is some money in the bank, jewellery, or even items that are of no monetary value but are quite sentimental to you, the chances are that you don’t want these things to end up in the hands of the wrong people. By making a will you ensure that these items are passed to the people you wish.

‘My debts will die with me’

Unfortunately this is not true. If you die with any debts outstanding they will need to be paid by your estate. Your will can direct where anything left over will pass and can make specific gifts of certain items. So that they won’t fall into the pot to cover debts, unless absolutely necessary.

‘Wills are for the elderly or the ill’

While a person who is elderly or ill may require a more urgent will, wills are in fact for everybody with mental capacity over the age of 18. Writing a will shouldn’t be put off, as the longer you leave it, the more risk there is it being too late. Even if you are at the other end of the spectrum, and are young and healthy, you can still benefit from a will especially if you have minor children.

The Covid 19 crisis has shown us that, young and middle aged people can be susceptible to diseases that could cause their death, and therefore everybody should have a will.

Young people or people who have children, can appoint guardians though their will, and this is an important part of the documentation, these are people who you would appoint to formerly take care of your minor children if you were to die.

If you haven’t yet written a will, or would like to update an existing will, speak to us at the telephone contact details.