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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

At Heritage Wills, we passionately feel that completing your Will should be as straightforward and pain-free as possible. In fact, our clients tell us that they would’ve done it years ago if they knew how simple it was. With that in mind, we’ve compiled some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) we receive from clients which may be of help.

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Alongside our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) we also have our Glossary of Terms which explains some of the legal terms. For more information call 01603 894500 and speak to a member of our team. Don’t forget, we offer free no-obligation consultations throughout East Anglia. Our Award-winning team of Consultants will be happy to answer any questions you have. Before you call us, we hope these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) will prove a useful first step.

Your questions answered

Why should I make a Will?

A Will allows you to do many things that wouldn’t be possible if you were to die intestate (without a Will). This includes stating who will administer your estate and confirming who should be your children’s guardians. It also gives direction to your executors concerning distributing specific assets, achieving desired tax and estate planning objectives.

What happens if I die without a Will?

Dying without a Will (intestate) has various consequences.  The cost of administering your estate will be higher, and the person authorised won’t necessarily be your choice.The distribution of your estate is fixed by law, irrespective of your intentions to include or exclude individuals. All amounts are paid out to heirs as soon as they turn 18 years of age (rather than another age of your choosing). If you have children, your spouse may not inherit everything.

Can I make my own Will?

In England and Wales, you can write your own Will, but there are many traps for the unsuspecting person. This could result in assets not passing to your chosen beneficiaries – either because key Will provisions are invalid or the wording isn’t legally compliant. To translate your wishes into a legally effective Will, we recommend you speak to a professional Will Writing company.

I’m not married but live with a partner – what happens to my estate?

If you are not married, they will not be able to keep anything that belongs to you. Your assets will be distributed according to your legally-recognised next of kin, which could run contrary to your wishes.

Doesn’t my spouse get everything when I die anyway?

If you were to die intestate (without a Will) the law determines who gets your assets and how much. These rules say that your spouse, if you have children, gets only the first £250,000, including the value of your house (if the house is worth more than £125,000 this may have to be sold). Beyond that, things become more complicated.

Do I need to worry about taxes on my death?

If your assets total more than £325,000 – including your house – your beneficiaries will be liable to pay 40% on everything over this amount. You should talk to a professional experienced in tax and estate planning who can give you good advice in minimising exposure to this tax on your death, whether through your Will or by taking appropriate steps during your lifetime. It is possible to save thousands of pounds through simple measures.

I already have a Will. How often should it be reviewed?

You should review your Will whenever there have been changes in family circumstances (for example, births, deaths, disabilities, marriages, separation or divorce) or if there has been a significant change in your wealth, whether an increase or a decrease. But even if no such changes have occurred, there may be changes in income tax or other laws in the interim.

I was divorced recently, but how do I ensure that my ex-spouse does not receive anything under my Will?

Divorce automatically revokes gifts to your ex and removes them as Executor, unless the Will provided otherwise. However, if your Will includes gifts to your ex, other changes may be needed, and you shouldn’t rely on the ‘revocation’ rule. Furthermore, unless you make a new Will, your executor will be obliged to notify your ex-spouse that an application for Probate has been submitted to the court, and your former spouse may participate in the proceedings. They may argue that your Will suggests that they should still receive bequests under the Will.

My spouse and I have separated – do I need to change my Will?

Separation doesn’t affect your Will – even if you have a Separation Agreement. Therefore you should write your Will as soon as you separate. However, your spouse may still have a claim against you under the relevant marital property laws.

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