You can find the answers to the questions that we're frequently asked by our members below. If you’re not sure on some of the terminology in these frequently asked questions then check out this handy glossary of terms all about estate planning that we have put together with the help of APS Legal & Associates.
If you answer 'yes' to any of the following questions then it's a great idea to create a Will.
- Do you have children under the age of 18? And, do you want to legally appoint someone else to be their guardian if you were to die?
- Do you have a property that you want to pass to someone when you die?
- Do you want anything that you own to go to a loved one when you die?
- Do you want to provide for anyone who isn’t related by blood?
- Do you want to save your family stress sorting out your estate when you die?
- Do you want to leave any of your assets to your partner if you are unmarried?
You could create your own Will yourself. Or, you have the option to contact a professional will writing service and estate planning company or a solicitor to create a Will for you. If you opt for the professional option, your adviser will assess your financial situation and will advise you of the best solution to meet your needs. They will also alert you to the threats to wealth that occur when someone passes away.
Here at The Nottingham, we offer a will writing service courtesy of APS Legal & Associates. During an appointment with them, one of their associates will talk to you about your family and personal circumstances, including:
- Your assets and personal belongings.
- Who you would like your executors to be. Executors are the people who collect your assets, pay your debts or taxes and distribute your assets to your beneficiaries.
- Who you would like to benefit under your Will and in what proportions, including specific gifts and charitable legacies and give you advice on the best way to organise it.
Once they understand what you would like, the associates will be able to draft your Will for you. You will then be able to agree the draft version of your Will before arranging another appointment for you to sign your Will with their guidance.
There’s no specific time that is best but, it is important to make a Will sooner rather than later so that you have piece of mind. A change in circumstances is a good opportunity to create a Will such as a property purchase or a new baby.
Deciding ‘who gets what’ is the hardest part of creating a Will so let’s start with the easy bits. Follow these steps to get you on the way to creating your Will.
- Begin by setting out the basics of what you have in terms of money, possessions and your estate. Start with the easiest things to value because you can see how much you have, for example your savings accounts.
- Then move onto jewellery, heirloom items and important possessions.
- Next, the things that change in value. These are your pension, any businesses you own or part-own, any investments such as stocks and finally any property that you own. Finally, think about sentimental items that you have and want to pass on. Whether you can include your pension will depend on your provider’s rules so check this with them before including this in your Will. The value will depend on how much it is worth when you die. Visit the Pensions Advisory Service for more on this.
- Then, make a list of who you want to receive anything from your estate including family, friends, charities, children and your spouse or partner. These are your beneficiaries.
Yes, you could leave everything to one person if you choose to. But, if you have multiple people in your life that you would like to leave things to, read our guide on the different types of Will requests below.
In the same vein as creating your Will, you should update it when you have something significant to change or an update in circumstances or the family occurs such as the sale of a property, marriage or the birth of a child. It should also be updated or reviewed when legislation changes. If you die without a valid and up to date Will in place this could cause many complications for the family left behind. This is called Intestacy.
Requests will vary if you want to leave different amounts of things to different people. Here are the five different types of legacy. If your affairs are fairly simple and you want to leave everything to one person, you can either use a specific or residuary bequest. If they’re more complicated then a mix of these five different types is fine.
A pecuniary bequest means a fixed sum of money to a specific person or people. For example, “I want to leave £10,000 to my niece”.
A specific bequest is when you want to leave a specific item that you own to someone. This will be based on what meets the description upon your death. For example, “I would like to leave all of my books to my son”. This will depend on whether you still have any books at your time of death, if not, this gift will fail.
A residuary bequest is based on a percentage of whatever your estate is worth after debts, costs, liabilities, legacies and tax have been paid. For example, “I want to leave half of my estate to my daughter”.
A reversionary bequest means specifying what happens to the gift you’re giving if the person you are giving it to, dies before they receive the gift. This means there shouldn’t be anything left in a Will without a home to go to. For example, “I want to leave my share of property to my husband, but if she does not survive me, it shall go to my son.”
A trust allows you to state who receives something from your estate after someone dies. For example, “I want to leave my share of property to my children but my wife may remain living there for the rest of her life and they cannot sell it without her consent."
There is normally no tax to be paid if:
- The value of your estate is below the £325,000 threshold or
- You leave everything above the threshold to your spouse or civil partner, or
- You leave everything above the threshold to an exempt beneficiary such as a charity
The allowance can be transferred to a spouse or civil partner if it isn’t used up on the first death. There is also an additional threshold for your home. Find out more about inheritance tax at Gov.uk.
With our trusted third party partner, APS Legal & Associates, a Will is £149 but for qualifying members of The Nottingham, a Will is £109 as part of our Member Rewards loyalty programme.
Of course, creating your own DIY Will is cost effective in the short term but it may not cover everything that you need and it can be easy to make mistakes that a professional would not. For example, most templated Wills are based on English and Welsh Law but won’t cover you if you live or own property in any other jurisdiction. Plus, Scotland have forced heirship rules which can be difficult to understand without professional advice.
Without professional help you may, for example not cover adequately enough the tax implications of certain inheritance. There are lots of things that could go wrong when it comes to confirmation and administration of the Will and Wills can often change as circumstances and families do.
Without an instruction meeting with a professional adviser there isn’t anyone to go over the minor details of estate planning and things can easily be missed.
Finally, when leaving your Will to be executed by a family member, for example adult children, it can be looked over that they may not understand or know exactly how to administer everything. This is where a trusted adviser could really help the whole family through the stressful time of sorting out an estate.
A Will can be hand written, but there is the opportunity to stumble across quite a lot of pitfalls and difficulties, thus making the Will invalid such as not being able to read the handwriting, writing is faded or if the Will is damaged.
APS Legal & Associates are one of the UK’s largest and most reputable will writing and estate planning companies. With over 500 Associates nationwide, all of their Associates and in-house staff are fully qualified in advising on will writing, Lasting Powers of Attorney, trusts as well as probate services. Although will writing can be daunting, APS opt with regulation in mind and follow the IPW (Institute of Professional Will Writers) code of practice that is recognised by the Trading Standards Institute. Whether you’re looking to write your own Will, or looking to help a client bank with will writing or probate, APS Legal & Associates can help.
Each one of their professional will writing and estate planning associates:
- Is professionally qualified by examination to give advice.
- Attend continuing professional development seminars throughout the year.
- Bound by the strict Code of Conduct of The Institute of Professional Will Writers (IPW) - the only code for will writers to be approved by the Trading Standards Institute.
- Carries £2.5 million of professional indemnity insurance.
- Have been vetted by the Criminal Records Bureau as fit and proper.
Visit your nearest branch of The Nottingham to book an appointment to speak to an associate about creating your Will and protecting your assets and family today.
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