Will it be mine?
Making a Will is never easy, so most of us put it off. 'My family know what I want' – so often quoted as the reason (or excuse) for not putting down our wishes on paper in a way which will help and guide those left behind. This phrase can prove so false – families are left uncertain and sometimes in dispute and the rules for inheritance that then come into play are not necessarily what was desired. Many people mistakenly assume that their estate will go direct to their partner if they die without making a will. This isn't necessarily the case, for example, an unmarried partner will be entitled to nothing in law. Even a spouse may not get the entire estate and more worryingly, may not receive enough to maintain their current lifestyle.
'I've made a Will – why make another?' – a view which can be understood but may also be short-sighted. The recommended view is that a Will should be reviewed every four or five years. When you write your own Will it reflects and enforces your wishes at the time it is drawn up. As life goes on and circumstances change so might your wishes for how your assets and belongings are distributed on your death. The most common changes that affect wills are:
- marriage or re-marriage
- divorce or separation
- birth or adoption of children
You can make alterations to your will by adding a Codicil, but if the alterations are extensive then it would be advisable for you to prepare a new Last Will. Do not attempt to write in any amendments or make any alteration to your last Will after it has been prepared and do not attach any papers to your last Will. It is recommended that you re-write your Will if there are changes to be made in it.
Each individual must make their own Will. However, you can have "Mirror Wills". A mirror will is when a husband, wife or partner make almost identical wills and commonly leave everything to each other should one partner die, and if both die together then direct to children. Each spouse is usually both a sole beneficiary and sole executor for each other. If there are no children then to a named beneficiary. Mirror Wills are simply separate and individual legal documents with similar contents.
A NEW last Will, dated and witnessed correctly, automatically revokes or cancels any earlier Last Will made by you.
Whilst there are some good online will writing services that make the process quick and simple, you should be extra careful as a poorly drafted will is almost as bad as having no Will at all. In this life you 'get what you pay for' – but who gets it in the next?
At Cross Ram & Co we pride ourselves on our friendliness and availability of qualified staff to assist you in preparing your Will. Jonathan Margarson (our senior partner) and his assistant Louise Chadwick - who has recently completed the STEP Advanced Certificate in Will Preparation (England & Wales) will be happy to advise you.
The aim of this booklet is to assist in an understanding of the significance of Wills and the related matter of making sure that wishes expressed in Wills are carried out.