What will happen to your property, your possessions and your money when you die? Have you assumed that all these things will automatically pass to your spouse, partner or children? Without a will, none of these things are guaranteed to happen. Laws (some made in the last century) will decide who will receive your estate upon your death.

A will is a legal document by which you say what you want to happen on your death. You can appoint people to administer your estate (executors), indicate who you want to look after your children, set out your funeral arrangements and decide who should receive your money, property and possessions.

We should all have a will. Regardless of age or health it is never too early or too late to ensure that you have a will that is valid in the eyes of the law. It is your opportunity to say what should happen after your death.

Above all else a will brings certainty for you and everyone else on your death; it sets out what you want to happen. You can determine what should happen to your house, should you spouse or partner be allowed to continue living in it with your children, should it be given to a beneficiary or sold and how should the proceeds be divided. You might want to make particular gifts to family or friends. Those gifts might be of money, personal items, jewellery or family heirlooms.

In your will, you should appoint executors – those are the people who will be responsible for administering your affairs and carrying out your wishes upon your death. Without this the law prescribes who should do this. If you have children who are under 18 you can stipulate who you would like to look after them and act as their guardians in the event of your death

Above all else a will stipulates how you want your assets to be divided up on your death. It allows you to decide which family, friends, individuals or charities should receive a share of your estate. Perhaps more importantly it allows you to say who should not benefit.

With Inheritance Tax payable upon death a will provides you with an opportunity to distribute your assets in a tax efficient way.

There are a many misconceptions about what happens to a person’s estate upon death. A surviving spouse will not necessarily be the sole beneficiary and without a will an unmarried partner has no automatic entitlement to a share of the estate

Whether your life and family circumstances are straightforward or complicated, it is a good idea to talk to a qualified solicitor about what you want to happen to your assets upon death and ensure that the people whom you want to benefit do so. It may be tempting to try and prepare your own will using forms from the internet, done correctly that will create a valid will, done incorrectly it can mean that your wishes are not carried through and your estate does not pass to those whom you wanted to benefit.

Couples often want to prepare wills that are similar to each other, often called mirror wills. We can talk through with you the possible consequences of this. We can also help to create a “life interest” on your death ensuring that your assets are available for your partner or spouse to use during their lifetime.

If you already have a will it is a good idea to review that with a solicitor from time to time particularly if there has been a change in your financial or family circumstances – there may be new additions to your family who were not included in your old will. It should also be remembered that marriage revokes an existing will and so unless your will was made in expectation of marriage a new will is needed.

Changes in circumstance may require a new will or simple change could be incorporated into a codicil which supplements the provisions of the existing will.

We offer competitive fixed fees for preparing your will which include meeting with one of our solicitors and preparing a draft will for you to consider.  Sometimes, we can even prepare your will whilst you wait. For those people who struggle to get to our office we can arrange a home visit.

If you want to arrange a consultation with one of our solicitors call 0161 429 7251 or email [email protected] and we can set that up.

At Higgins Miller, we deliver top-quality advice on wills.

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