If you are thinking about writing a Will, you may have questions about the process involved and how to get it right.
At James & George Collie, our Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning Solicitors are here to provide support at all stages of making your Will, including drafting, signing and storing your document, and advising on tax reliefs, trusts and all other estate planning matters.
Here, we provide answers to the most common questions our clients ask us about writing a Will. If you have any other queries or would like to discuss your requirements with our professional and friendly team, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
- Why should I make a Will?
- How do I write a Will?
- When should I make a Will?
- How much does it cost to make a Will?
- How long does it take to write a Will?
- What Will-writing considerations are there for parents?
- What Will-writing considerations are there for property owners?
- How often should I update my Will?
There are many reasons why it is important to write a Will. Doing so ensures your wishes concerning who inherits your property and money are followed. Alternatively, if you die without a Will, the law decides how your assets are dealt with, and this may not be consistent with what you would have wanted.
Writing a Will allows you to:
- choose the individuals or organisations you wish to benefit from your estate and which assets you would like them to inherit;
- decide which person (or people) will be responsible for dealing with your affairs after your death;
- ensure that if you have a partner who you are not married to or in a civil partnership with, they are provided for (without a Will, your partner will not automatically benefit and will have to go to court to inherit your assets);
- make care and financial arrangements for your children;
- explore all options to reduce the tax payable on your estate; and
- provide instructions for your funeral.
You can make a Will yourself; however, even if your affairs are straightforward, there is a risk that mistakes will be made and the document will be deemed invalid – meaning your wishes will not be honoured. That is why it is widely recommended that you instruct a solicitor to ensure your Will is legally valid and your instructions are clear.
- Your solicitor will help you create an itinerary of all your assets, including your property, any businesses you own, bank accounts, savings, shares, pensions, digital assets and personal possessions.
- You will then consider who you wish to benefit from your estate and which assets you would like them to inherit. You should provide direction on what should happen to your assets if any beneficiaries die before you. Your instructions must be written clearly so that confusion and potential disputes are avoided.
- If you have children under 18, your solicitor will offer advice on the provisions you can include for their care and financial protection.
- You will also need to nominate a person (or people) who will organise your affairs and carry out your wishes in your Will – known as the executor(s).
Once you have written down all your instructions, you must sign your Will in the presence of a witness, who must also sign the document.
Many people believe you should be of a certain age or own a significant amount to make a Will. In fact, anyone who has property, money or personal possessions that they want to protect should write down their wishes. There are times, of course, when it is particularly important to make a Will if you have not already done so; for example, if you buy a home, start a business, get married, get divorced, have children or become ill.
If you are considering making a Will, the best first step to take is to contact a specialist Wills Solicitor. At James & George Collie, our dedicated Wills Solicitors will listen carefully to your current situation and requirements and explain how writing a Will could benefit you. We will also describe the process involved in clear, simple terms and answer any questions you have.
This depends on how complex your circumstances are. We will meet with you, Facetime or Zoom meet with you or otherwise correspond with you and learn about your circumstances in order to provide you with an estimated fee for completing your Will.
Restricted or discounted fees may be available in the event that you and your partner would like to instruct us to prepare similar or mirroring wills or wish to also prepare a Power of Attorney.
We are also delighted to confirm that we do provide a Free Wills writing or updating Service in partnership with Cancer Research UK. Please have a look at our Free Wills Service page for more information.
To discuss your requirements and receive a quote, contact us.
Again, this will depend on how complicated your Will is, but in most cases, it is probably a lot quicker than you think.
At James & George Collie, we aim to make the process as quick and easy as possible for every client. Our team understand that you are busy and that you want your Will to take effect without fuss and delay.
After an initial face-to-face meeting with you (or otherwise meeting with you by FaceTime, Zoom or other appropriate video calling), at which we will gather the information necessary to begin drafting your document, we will then communicate as much as possible with you by phone and email for your convenience. We will work quickly and accurately to prepare your Will and answer any questions you have fully. Once you are happy with the contents, the document is ready to be signed and stored. We can store your Will for you, giving you peace of mind that it is safe.
If you have children under 18, you can appoint a guardian who will become responsible for their care if you, or you and their other parent, die. You can also set out how your estate will provide financially for their upbringing.
Stepchildren do not automatically inherit from your estate unless you write instructions for this in your Will. Therefore, if you have stepchildren, your Will should give direction on how you wish to provide for them.
It is also important to consider at what age you would like your children to inherit. If you do not specify this, they will become entitled to benefit when they reach 16 years of age. Until you consider it appropriate for your children to access their assets, they can be held in a trust. If you decide to establish a trust, you can appoint trustees to manage it and provide instructions on how you wish the money to be given to your children.
For most people, their home will be there most valuable asset; therefore, you should consider carefully what will happen to it after you die.
If you own your property yourself, you can decide who will inherit it. However, if you share ownership with someone else, this may not be possible. If you have a survivorship clause in the property deeds, then the surviving joint owner will inherit your half if you die. On the other hand, if you do not have a survivorship clause, you can leave your share to whomever you wish in your Will.
You should also consider Inheritance Tax when planning what should happen to your property. There are ways to avoid paying tax, for example, if you leave everything above the threshold to your spouse or civil partner. You can also increase the tax-free threshold applicable to your estate by leaving your home to your children. Our Wills Solicitors will be able to advise on all the tax implications and how best to make use of any relevant reliefs.
We recommend that you review your Will every five years to make sure it still reflects your wishes. It is also vital to update your Will whenever you experience any significant changes in your life, for example, getting married or divorced, having a baby or buying a new home. If you are unsure about whether your Will should be updated to reflect your current circumstances, do not hesitate to get in touch with our team to discuss.
Contact Our Wills, Trusts & Estate Planning Solicitors Based in Aberdeen and Stonehaven Today
At James & George Collie Solicitors, we have an experienced team dedicated to all Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning matters. Our lawyers are here to listen carefully to your needs and provide tailored advice on how best to meet them. We are a traditional yet progressive law firm and take pride in offering legal advice that not only meets clients' expectations but exceeds them.