Steadfast Wills | Wills
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Two thirds of UK adults do not have a valid Will (source:  Society of Will Writers).  Wills are not just for the elderly or the wealthy – using a regulated professional to write your Will provides both you and your family with peace of mind.  Making a Will shows your loved ones that you cared enough to plan ahead.  A Will brings security and reassurance – not just for you, but for all those who depend on you, either now or in the future.

If you would like to write your Will, please phone or email to make an appointment.  We would be delighted to visit you in your home or place of work at a time convenient to you – daytime or evening.  This initial appointment is free and without obligation, and generally takes up to 1.5 hours.

Wills are written in plain English, not legal jargon – and we are happy to visit as many times as needed, in order to get them exactly right.

Before making your Will, we suggest you consider the following:

  • Make a list of all your assets, and consider how you would like to distribute them.
  • Consider who you wish to appoint as executors of your Will, and guardians of any children under 18.  Please speak to the people you’ve chosen and obtain their agreement.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Will?

Your Will allows you (the testator) to instruct your executors on how to distribute your estate after your death.

Why Should I Make a Will?

This is the only way to ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death.  Making a Will lets your loved ones know that you cared enough to sort things out in advance.  People making Wills have different priorities – some people’s main aim is to protect their wealth, for others their main concern is appointing guardians for their children.

What happens if I die without a Will?

Without a Will, your next of kin must apply to the Courts for the power to deal with your estate.  This is likely to cost more and take longer than if a Will had been made.

Also when there is no Will, your estate will not necessarily pass to your spouse or partner after your death. The Government appointed ‘Rules of Intestacy’ state who should inherit and how much.  This depends on their relationship to you, and the total net value of your estate.

An unmarried partner will be entitled to nothing, and even a spouse or civil partner may not inherit enough to maintain their lifestyle.

If you die with no living close relatives, your whole estate will go to the government.

What is a Mirror Will?

Mirror Wills are prepared for couples who want to make almost identical Wills, for example leaving everything to one another and then to their children. They are separate legal documents with similar content that “mirror” each other. 

Can I write my own Will?

There is no legal reason not to write your own Will – and this would be a legally valid document provided it is signed and witnessed correctly.  However, unless you are a skilled Will writer this is not generally recommended, as any errors would not come to light until after your death – by which time it is obviously too late to sort things out.  Home-made or badly drafted Wills can be just as bad (or even worse) than no Will at all.

Can I use one of those Will writing packs that cost under £20 on the High Street?

These packs are fine if you have very simple requirements – ie if you have a very low value estate, don’t own property, and don’t have a spouse, partner or children. For anyone else it is advisable to have a professionally drafted Will.

Should I use a solicitor to write my Will?

Most solicitors do not specialise in writing Wills. Often they will only have had a few hours training on Wills before qualifying.

At Steadfast Wills, we work more flexibly than most solicitors, visiting you in your own home at a time to suit you – daytime or evening.  Because we specialise in Wills, we can often give better and more cost-effective advice, in plain English not legal jargon.  We are also confident that our prices compare favourably to those of high street solicitors.

What is an executor?

The main role of an executor is to deal with your estate after your death:  pay any taxes and debts, and distribute the estate as the Will directs.

How many executors can I appoint?

You can appoint as many executors as you like – however legally only 4 of them can act at any given time.

Can I appoint a beneficiary as an executor?

Yes – if the beneficiary is aged over 18.  Many people choose to do this nowadays.

Can I appoint an executor who lives abroad?

There is no legal reason not to appoint an executor who lives abroad.  However it is sensible to appoint at least one executor in the country where you live.

What is the difference between an executor and a trustee?

The main difference is that trustee is the person responsible for making the decisions that maintain the estate whilst it is held on trust before it is given to the beneficiaries, and the executor is the person that carries out (or executes) the actions and wishes of the Trustees during this time.  Nowadays it is common to appoint executors as trustees – so the same person or people carry out both roles.

Should I appoint guardians for my children?

If you have children under the age of 18 you need to appoint guardians for them in case a tragedy should occur. Failure to do so could result in a Court appointing someone you would not choose.

Can my guardians be executors?

Yes – this is very common.  It normally follows that if you trust somebody to care for your children, you would want them to have some form of access to your assets so that they can provide for your children.  There are some situations where you might not want the guardian to have direct access to your assets – if this is the case then alternative executors can be used.

Do I need to list everything that I own in my Will?

No.  If you want specific objects, collections or amounts of money to go to particular people, then you should list these. Usually people would list items of particular sentimental value, such as jewellery or “Grandad’s war medals” in the Will itself.  If you have particular wishes about who should get specific household items (things that you use & replace over time) it is recommended that you make a separate list which is referred to in your Will.  This separate list can be updated as often as you like, without needing to re-write your Will.  Everything you do not list (whatever it is) is dealt with through distribution of Residue.  After any specific gifts have been made, married couples (or those in civil partnerships) often choose to leave everything to one another, and then on to any children in equal shares on the death of the survivor.

How can I store my Will safely?

There are no legal restrictions on where a Will is stored – however it is important that your executors know where the Will is, and how to retrieve it when the time comes.

There are 3 possibilities:

  1. You can store your Will yourself, ideally in a fireproof, waterproof box.
  2. One of your executors can store the Will.
  3. We can arrange secure storage for a small annual fee.
Can I set age limits for when gifts can be received?

Yes.  Your trustees would look after the gift until the beneficiary reaches the age you choose.  Often our clients wish their children or grandchildren to inherit at the age of 21 or 25, rather than at 18.

When should I review or update my Will?

We recommend that you review your Will at least once every 5 years – or if your personal/financial circumstances change.  Steadfast Wills offer a free Will review service for Wills over 5 years old and for those whose circumstances have changed.

What effect will marriage, separation or divorce have on my Will?

If you get married or remarried, or register a civil partnership after you have made a Will it is automatically revoked, unless the Will specifically states that it was made in contemplation of the marriage or civil partnership to a particular person.  If you are already in a civil partnership when you make your Will, subsequent marriage to the same person will not revoke the Will.

If you separate from your spouse or partner, this does not affect your Will.  So if you were to die, your estranged spouse or partner would still benefit.  If this is not your intention, you need to amend or rewrite your Will.

If you divorce or dissolve a civil partnership, your Will would be read as if your former spouse or civil partner had already died (unless the Will specifically states otherwise).  This would apply to any gifts made to the former spouse or civil partner, as well as any appointment (eg Executor).  It is a good idea to review your Will after divorce or dissolution of civil partnership, to ensure you have made alternative appointments and have chosen other beneficiaries.

What if I’ve been married before?

You may wish to benefit your current spouse, but also ensure that your own children eventually benefit.  A Will can include trusts which allow a spouse to live in a property for the rest of their life and then the property will pass to the children afterwards.

What if we own our house in joint names?

Most home-owning couples find that they own their home as ‘joint tenants’. This means that when one of them dies, the property automatically passes to the survivor regardless of what each Will may state.

The down-side can be that it is impossible to plan for individual deaths, even via a Will – for example, where a couple have been married or in a relationship before and have children of that relationship that they would want to benefit from their share and interest in their property.

To get around this, you need to consider ‘severing’ the joint tenancy (or ownership) to what is called ‘tenants in common’. This will ensure that you both hold your share of the family home in specific shares and as such you can each leave your share to whoever you wish in your Will. The Will should also contain a simple but effective property trust, commonly called a Protective Property Trust, which guarantees that the survivor will have the security of being able to remain in the property and have full use of it but that the deceased’s share remains in the trust until the trust ends.

Should I include funeral wishes in my Will?

This is not necessary.  However if you would like to leave specific instructions (such as burial/cremation), you can do this in your Will if you want to.  These are only wishes, and not legally binding on your executors to carry them out if they are unable to.  It is a good idea to discuss any funeral wishes with your executors during your lifetime.

When does my Will become legal?

When it has been signed and witnessed correctly.  Two witnesses are needed – ideally British citizens aged 18 or over.  Witnesses must not be beneficiaries of the Will or married to beneficiaries.  Witnesses could be neighbours, friends living nearby, or the Will writer may act as a witness.