Catherine Causey and her team at WBW Solicitors are looking forward to supporting Rowcroft Hospice's Make a Will Week
Catherine Causey, Head of Private Client Services at WBW Solicitors, reveals how to update or write your Will in three simple steps.
Research has shown that only half of people in the UK currently have a Will and of those who do, half have never updated it. Catherine Causey, Head of Private Client Services at WBW Solicitors, says that even if your estate is small and your intentions simple, you should still make a Will. She explains: "If you care about what happens to your property after you die, you should make a Will. Without one, the law decides who inherits so your friends, favourite charities and relatives may get nothing."
An ideal time to update or write your Will is during Rowcroft Hospice's Make a Will Week, which is taking place from 19 - 25 May. During the week a total of 16 local solicitors firms across South Devon will waive their Will-writing fee in return for a donation to the hospice; either £100 for a single Will or £150 for a pair of Mirror Wills.
Here Catherine reveals how to update or write your Will in a few simple steps; it's as easy as one two three...
Step One: Choose a solicitor
A Will is defined as a written declaration, which states how a person's possessions are to be dealt with when they die. The person making the Will is known as the testator (the expression 'testatrix' can be used for female testator - but this is probably a little old fashioned). Although it is possible to write a Will without a solicitor's help, this is generally not advisable as there are various legal formalities you need to follow to make sure your Will is valid. Without the help of an expert there's a real risk you could make a mistake, which could cause problems for your family and friends after your death.
If you need to make a Will but don't have a solicitor, you can find one by contacting the Law Society or search under Wills & Probate at www.lawsociety.org.uk/findasolicitor. Or to see who's participating in Rowcroft's Make A Will Week, click here.
Step Two: Provide your chosen solicitor with the relevant information
Once you have appointed a solicitor, they will need the following details from you:
They will need to know whether you have made a previous Will (or Codicils) and whether it has been revoked. In case law, when Wills are challenged, particularly on the grounds of lack of capacity, previous Wills are often referred to if their provisions are substantially different. Your solicitor should record fully your reasons for making the changes.
Full details of your immediate family and dependants should be established, including their needs. Your solicitor should bear in mind the possibility of claims under the 1975 family provisions legislation. If you insist on omitting a member of your family who might reasonably expect to be included in your Will, then your solicitor should prepare a document setting out your reasons for the lack of provision which should be kept with your Will.
The size and nature of your estate should be assessed, including its value and the different types of property within it, for example: personal valuables, stocks and shares, bank accounts, insurance policies and pensions.
Executors of your Will
You must consider the people you want to appoint as 'executors' of your Will - the people who carry out the administration of your Will after your death. These could be family, friends, or a professional, such as your solicitor.
Who gets what?
Your Solicitor will ask you questions such as: Who do you want to benefit from your Will? How do you want to divide your property between your loved ones, friends or charities? What happens if the people you want to benefit die before you?
Step Three: Sign your Will and keep it safe
Once the Will has been drawn up it is not effective until it has been signed. You need to sign and witness your Will to make it legal and many people use staff at their solicitor's office to act as their witnesses.
It is important to keep your Will in a safe place and tell your executors or a close friend or relative where it is. People often ask their solicitor to store their Wills for them.
Before you decide who to use, check with a few local solicitors to find out how much they charge but above all, ensure that you find a solicitor with experience and knowledge who is approachable and whose advice you understand.
Catherine Causey is Head of Private Client Services at WBW Solicitors. She can be contacted by phone on 01626 202404 or by email email@example.com. For more information visit www.wbw.co.uk or for a full list of participating solicitors visit www.rowcrofthospice.org.uk/willweek.