Will Solicitors in Hastings and Hailsham
Making a Will is important and is not going to be as expensive as you might think. Contact us and we can explain to you what is involved, how much it will cost and how Janet Sinden & Co can help you. You can also find out a bit more about what a Will is and what it can do in the sections below
What is a Will?
A Will is a legal document and its main purpose is to set out what you want to happen to your property, money and other things which you own (called your “estate”) on your death.
However, that is not all that it can do. A Will can also be used as a way to pass on your wishes on a number of other matters, including:
- who you want to deal with your estate on your death (your “executors”);
- who you want to appoint to look after any of your children who might be under 18 should both you and your spouse/partner die (“guardians”);
- whether you want to be buried or cremated and if you have any special instructions as to your funeral;
- whether you want to donate your organs or your body to medical research; and
- whether you want to make any gifts – for example to friends or charities.
To be valid, a Will must be in writing and must be correctly signed and witnessed. A verbal statement will not, other than in exceptional circumstances, be regarded as a valid way of passing your property. Strictly speaking any written document, even a letter, could constitute a valid Will but we would not recommend such an informal approach. Since you will no longer be alive to say what you meant, it is easy for your intentions to be misconstrued if they are not clearly recorded.
Although you do not need to use a solicitor to write a Will for you, it is recommended that you do so. It is an important, technical document and if you make it without proper assistance then you may find that, either:
- you have not followed the correct procedures and so it is declared invalid by the courts and your estate will pass as if you had not made a Will; or
- it is not clear what you intended to do and either your executors will be unable to follow your wishes or the Will is challenged and your wishes are overruled.
Why Make a Will?
Everyone should make a Will, no matter how little they think they have to leave and no matter how simple they think their estate is.
By making a Will, you are ensuring that your final wishes are legally recognised. Making a Will gives you the certainty and peace of mind that comes from knowing that your property and possessions (known as your estate) will be passed on exactly as you want on your death. More importantly, however, it means that those who have to look after your estate after your death are spared the problems that can arise from administering an estate where there is no Will.
There are many reasons why people put off making a Will. These include:
- They are too busy to visit a solicitor;
- They don’t like to think about dying;
- They are unable to get out of the house – for example because of disability or child-care commitments;
- They are worried about the cost;
- They don’t think they have anything worth leaving;
- They are not sure what a Will does; and
- They are not sure who they will leave things to;
Janet Sinden & Co can help you with all of these issues and more and can advise you on what you need to do and the issues you need to think about.
Making a Will is Important
Making a Will is especially important if:
- You are not married or not in a civil partnership– you may find that your partner is not entitled to your estate at all or that they are placed in a position of having to make a potentially expensive claim on your estate;
- You have young children– unless you make provision for the children then you might find that they are not looked after in the way that you would hope if you and or your partner should die;
- You have a medium to large estate– without appropriate steps to reduce the burden of inheritance tax you may find that your dependants are left without sufficient money to live and may be forced to sell the family home;
- You want to make sure that your estate – or any part of it – is left to a particular person. This can be the case, even where you want to leave everything to your spouse or civil partner who, without a will, will only receive a proportion of your estate.
If you have a Will, it appoints Executors, they can be family, friends or professionals. It is the Executors that will deal with your estate and distribute the estate in accordance with your Will.
In your Will you can say who you want to benefit from your estate and include people who are important to you. You might want to leave something to a charity but if there is no Will then if they are not a relative, they may not receive anything from your estate.
If you do not have a Will, then your estate is dealt with under the Rules of Intestacy. Usually, a relative will be appointed to deal with your estate (there is a strict rule as to who can apply to do so) and, if a relative cannot be located, then the Official Solicitor may have to deal with your estate.
Under the Intestacy Rules, your estate will, in the main, be distributed between your relatives. That means that if you wanted a partner or a friend to benefit from your estate, they will be unlikely to do so unless they are entitled to make a claim against the estate, which can be a costly business, especially if their claim is contested.
By making a Will you can include say who you want to deal with your estate, and who you want to receive something from your estate. Without a will your estate could pass to relatives that you may not want to have had anything from your estate, possibly even a distant family member that you did not know existed.
Planning Your Will
Before you start the process of making a Will, it is usually a good idea to write down all of the information you think you might need so that you have time to check details and make sure they are up to date.
There are a number of questions that we will need to ask you before we can start to prepare your Will. These include:
- what you own and what it is worth– this is an important first step as it will help us to decide whether you need to worry about issues such as inheritance tax, trusts and so forth and may also affect how you leave your estate and the complexity of the Will we draft for you;
- who you would like to appoint as executors – this will include how many you want and whether you want to appoint a professional person as one of those executors. You can, if you wish, appoint Janet Sinden & Co to act for you;
- whether you want to be buried or cremated – this can also include any other arrangements you wish to make in relation to the disposal of your remains including organ donation and you can leave details of how you want your funeral to be conducted including any hymns or songs that you want;
- whether you want to make any specific gifts of money or property – and if so to whom and in what circumstances
- what you want to do about any children under the age of 18 – especially in the event that you are the sole surviving parent or guardian;
- whether there is anyone else who has a call upon your estate – for example because you are responsible for looking after them or because they live with you;
- what you want to happen to the residue of your estate – that is to say the balance of your estate after all of your debts and any specific gifts have been paid; and
- whether you want to make a provision for alternative recipients of your residuary estate – for example in the event that the person to whom you leave your residuary estate dies before you.
Janet Sinden & Co Will Solicitors
Although you may be tempted to make a ‘do it yourself’ Will – either by buying a kit from a shop or using one of the online services – or to use the services of somebody who is not a qualified solicitor, we would strongly recommend that you do not.
The rules and regulations relating to Wills are very complicated and there are numerous pitfalls for the unwary. This can be avoided by using expert Will solicitors such as Janet Sinden & Co.
Every year cases about Wills end up in the courts because they have been drafted incorrectly, are ambiguous or legally unenforceable. With the help of Janet Sinden & Co you can have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your Will has been properly drafted and is legally enforceable.
What is more, we think you will find that the cost of that peace of mind proves to be much more reasonable than you would have thought.
Call us today to see how we can assist you.