Solicitor Megan Phillips, our Swindon Wills specialist, answers some common questions she’s asked about Wills.
How long does it take to make a Will?
Megan: “Unless your situation is particularly complicated, which would be unusual, making a Will is not a lengthy process. I will meet with you, take a few details and then listen carefully to what you would like to happen when you pass away. I will provide you with any advice you may need and answer any questions you may have. Following that initial meeting I will send you a draft Will for approval; most clients these days prefer to receive this by email. Subject to any amendments or further questions you may have, we will arrange a time for you to sign your new Will.
“If attending the office may be difficult for you, I can come to you. I am asked regularly to see clients at home, in residential care or in hospital.”
If I die without a Will, does my spouse inherit everything?
Megan: “Many people assume that if you are married and do not have a Will, your spouse will receive your entire estate on your death. This is not always true. If your estate is larger than £250,000 and you have children, your children will also automatically take a share. To ensure that everything passes to your surviving spouse on your death, having a Will is essential.”
Does my ‘common law’ husband or wife have the same rights as a spouse?
Megan: “Many people believe that if you live with your partner the law recognises them in the same or in a similar way to a spouse. That is totally incorrect. The term ‘common law’ spouse is a total misnomer and if you are not married or in a civil partnership, you have no automatic right to each other’s estate.
“Whilst it is possible for a partner to make a claim against an estate for lack of financial provision, this is sometimes far from straightforward and can be expensive. By simply providing for your partner in a Will, you can be sure that they will not be in financial distress after your death.”
Who decides what happens if I die without making a Will?
Megan: “If you do not have a Will, statutory rules will automatically take effect on your estate. These govern which of your family members will inherit from you.
These ‘intestacy rules’ can be read here.
“These very inflexible rules do not always suit the modern family. These days, second marriages are common and it is an increasing concern of our clients to ensure that children from previous relationships are protected when it comes to their inheritance. Having a well drafted Will can set your mind at rest that your whole family will be well looked after once you have gone.”
Can I appoint somebody to look after my children?
Megan: “Within a Will, parents can appoint Guardians to care for any children who are under 18. This is extremely important as without an express appointment in your Will, a dispute may arise among surviving family members. To avoid any dispute, it is best to make the appointments in your Will so that those left behind know and respect your wishes.”
Can a Will help reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax payable?
Megan: “Taking advice and having a professionally drafted Will can help to reduce the amount of inheritance tax payable on your estate. At our first meeting, I will explain the current inheritance tax legislation to you and, if it might affect your estate, advise you on how to minimise the amount payable.”