Having a will ensures your wishes regarding your money, your possessions and your property are carried out after you die. If you die without a valid will in place then your estate may not pass as you intended which can cause unintended financial problems and emotional distress for your family.
It is advisable to review your will or make one if you have children under 18, if you’re cohabiting, getting married, getting divorced or own a share in property. You should review your will around every five years and especially if there are any changes in your personal circumstances.
If you die without a valid will in place you are said to have died ‘Intestate’ and the Intestacy Rules will come into effect. These are rules which set out who benefits from your estate.
Wills should be drafted by a specialist, as any small error in the wording is open to interpretation which can cause problems and, at worst, make the will invalid.
Battrick Clark Solicitors of Bristol offer all the help and legal advice you will need if you want to draw up a valid Will, and ensure that your wishes are carried out.
- The assets of people who die without making Wills may be distributed in ways contrary to their wishes
- We can ensure that the person of your choice deals with your estate and that your assets go where you want
- We can advise on making provision for children so that they are properly cared for
If you would like to make an appointment then we can arrange it at a convenient time for you and will guide you through the process. We will start with an initial meeting to take instructions and will then draft the will. When you are happy with the content of the will then we can arrange for you to sign it either in our office where we provide the witnesses or we can send it to you to sign at home with instructions on how to sign. Please contact our private client department by phone or email for an appointment.
Types of will
Standard single will
A standard single will is designed for one person to appoint executors of their estate, to make specific gifts, to state who will benefit from the rest of their estate and to appoint guardians.
A standard single includes non-complex trusts such as gifts to individuals when they reach a certain age.
Standard mirror wills
Standard mirror wills are designed for two people who have similar wishes for the distribution of their estates, to appoint their choice of trusted individuals to act as executors of their estates, to make specific gifts, to nominate who will benefit from the rest of their estate; and to appoint guardians for minor children.
Standard mirror wills include non-complex trusts such as gifts to individuals when they reach a certain age.
Trust single will
A trust standard will is designed for one person to appoint their choice of trusted individuals to act as executors of their estate, to make specific gifts, to nominate who will benefit from the rest of their estate, to appoint guardians for minor children; and to create trusts as may be necessary to offer increased protection of their assets such as property and possessions.
A trust will enables one person or more to hold an individual’s property, possessions or savings subject to certain duties to use and protect it for the benefit of others.
Trust mirror wills
Trust mirror wills are designed for two individuals (married or unmarried, civil partners or otherwise), who have similar wishes for the distribution of their estates to appoint their choice of trusted individuals to act as executors of their estates, to make specific gifts, to nominate who will benefit from the rest of their estate, to appoint guardians for minor children; and to create trusts as may be necessary to offer increased protection of your assets.
Trust mirror wills enable one person or more to hold an individual’s property, possessions or savings subject to certain duties to use and protect it for the benefit of others.
Questions and answers
Why do I need a Will?
By having a valid will you can:
- Choose who will administer your estate after your death and pass your assets on to your beneficiaries
- Choose who will act as trustee for any ongoing trust created
- Express your preference as to the guardians for any of your minor children
- State to whom your assets pass, and on what terms.
- Express a preference as to your funeral wishes
- Ensure that your estate is distributed in as a tax efficient a way as possible and that your assets are protected as best they can be
In the absence of a valid will, your estate will pass via the intestacy provisions, and there is no guarantee that it will pass in the way that you want it to
For a further discussion of the legal importance of making a Will, see our article Why Do I Need to Make a Will?
What type of trusts are usually included in a will?
Property trusts (right of occupation)
This type of trust entitles a person to remain in occupation of your share of the family home after your death but it also states that your share of the family home will eventually pass to those you wish to benefit. For example, you can give your partner/spouse the right to live in your house and in the event of your surviving partner marrying/remarrying then your property will pass to your children.
Life interest trusts (interest in possession)
A life interest trust can be useful for individuals or couples who wish to protect their estates for future generations. The purpose of a life interest trust in your will is to appoint a person to benefit from the income generated from your investments, and to live in the property you own, perhaps to provide continued financial support to a surviving spouse or children, whilst protecting the capital for your chosen beneficiaries or future generations.
A discretionary trust involves the appointment of trustees to manage assets held on trust on behalf of a number of potential beneficiaries. The trustees have discretion of who should benefit and how they should benefit. This is another method of potentially safeguarding assets for future generations. It can assist in the slow release of assets. For example, if a beneficiary of your will has a disability or is vulnerable, a discretionary trust may be useful as the arrangement can enable their needs to be met from the assets in your estate, without giving them an absolute entitlement.
Why should cohabiting couples make a will?
Cohabiting couples do not have an automatic entitlement to their partner’s estate. If you do not have a will, it could leave your partner with devastating consequences and without a roof over their head.
See our intestacy guide
What happens to my will if I get married or divorced?
Marriage revokes a will unless your will is made in contemplation of a marriage. This will have the effect of you being intestate and your estate passing by way of the intestacy provisions. See our intestacy guide
If you get divorced then, any gift to your spouse will fail and they will be treated as having pre-deceased you. Depending on the drafting of your will, this could lead to your estate passing in a way that you might not expect and may even result in some or all of your estate passing via the intestacy rules.
How long will it take to prepare my Will from start to finish?
Timescales can vary depending on the degree of complexity or how long you wish to take to consider the options. A straightforward Will can be completed in a few days.
Can I minimise Inheritance Tax (IHT)?
Depending on your circumstances it may be possible to reduce the liability for IHT e.g. by using tax allowances more efficiently.
Who will keep my Will?
In theory anyone can keep your Will but it is important that it is stored in a safe place and that your Executors know where it is held. Battrick Clark holds many Wills for clients at no charge.
What if I own land or a house abroad?
You will need a separate Will covering that property.
What about my children?
If they are under 18 years old, you should specify who will look after them and their interests until they reach 18. It is common to make similar provision for any unborn children at this time.
How do I leave specific items to particular people?
This needs to be expressly provided for in your Will.
What will happen if I do not make a Will?
Your estate will be distributed in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy and this may well not accord with your wishes. See our intestacy guide.