As January draws to a close and you have, I’m sure, spent the last month rearranging your knicker collection and replacing old bras (bra shopping! Such a fun job!), you may be looking for one more item to tick off your to-do list. In which case may I suggest, if you haven’t done so already, making a Will?
I had the most tremendous fun making a Will with Giles about ten years ago in which I ended up jokingly (not joking) saying things like “I will not allow those vile children from your second marriage get their hands on my collection of Japanese butterfly pictures!!!!!”
Anyway you are sensible sorts, I imagine you have already done this, if not, consider lovely Rebecca! Who is a long-time reader and set up her own Will-Writing service in order to work flexibly around her children.
Take it away, Rebecca!
If you have children, you no doubt spend a lot of time worrying about their wellbeing, probably feeding them organic food, arranging piano lessons and the like. What about the bigger picture, though? What if you died whilst they were still young? It’s crucial to provide for their future in that situation by making a Will. If you died, they would then at least have the benefit of you having carefully chosen legal guardians to look after them, and provided for their future, financially.
What are the perils of dying without a Will (intestate)?
A court would have to choose your children’s guardians.
Your children would automatically inherit at age 18. In your Will, you can delay this to age 21, 25 or later.
It’s a widely-held misconception that if your husband/wife outlives you, they will get everything. They will get the first £250,000, and the rest will be split 50% to your spouse, 50% to your children at age 18.
If you aren’t married, your partner won’t automatically inherit anything.
What if I died leaving everything to my husband, and then he remarried and left my money to his new wife and family instead of to our children?
You can prevent this by leaving your assets on a life interest trust for your husband, instead of leaving them to him outright. This will allow him to live in the house for his lifetime and to receive the income from your assets, whilst keeping your capital safe for your children (Just a bit of tax planning, darling <whistles>.)
What if one or both of us has children from a previous marriage?
To provide for two families, again, the usual solution is to set up a life interest trust in your Will that will allow you to carefully balance the needs of your second husband/wife with those of your children.
How can I provide for someone who’s disabled, has a drug/alcohol problem, or is just terrible with money?
In your Will, you can establish a discretionary trust for a class of beneficiaries, including the person in question. This allows your chosen trustees to keep the situation under review, and to benefit that person (or not) in future, as they think fit.
What if I’ve been left out of someone’s Will unfairly?
You can raise a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, although the caselaw hasn’t been going well for disappointed adult children in recent years. It’s probably easier just to be nice to your mother during her lifetime, which is what these cases tend to come down to!
How long will it take and how much is it?
The meeting with your legal adviser to talk through your instructions should only take about an hour, and making a Will should be affordable. For example, I charge £195 to make a simple Will for one person, or £325 for simple Wills for a couple. I can take instructions via Skype or FaceTime if you aren’t local.
Rebecca D’Arcy is a solicitor and runs Chiltern Wills www.chilternwills.com. To make an appointment ring 07544 091039 or email firstname.lastname@example.org