Will Writing - Sutton McGrath Hartley

Will Writing Guidance Notes View PDF

What Happens Next?

Once you have selected the type of Will required, please contact us on 0114 266 4432 or email wills@suttonmcgrathhartley.co.uk and we will arrange to collect the information we will need to prepare your Will and confirm our charges.

Is a STANDARD FIXED PRICE WILL appropriate for my needs?

• Do you consider anywhere other than England or Wales to be your permanent home?


• Do you own a share in a business (i.e. Sole Trade, Partnership, Limited company, Limited Liability Partnership?


• Are you leaving anything of value to someone who has a learning disability and/or is reliant on means tested benefits?


• Do you own anything jointly with anyone other than your spouse or partner?


• Is your estate worth more than £325,000 (if you are single/widowed or divorced) or more than £650,000 if you are married?


• Do you own anything outside of England or Wales?


• Do you wish to leave your house or your share in it as a separate gift in your Will to anyone other than your spouse or partner?


• Do you wish to make any substantial donation to a registered charity?


If you answered ‘No’ to all the above questions, the chances are that our STANDARD FIXED PRICE WILL SERVICE should be suitable. However, if you answered yes to any questions above our STANDARD FIXED PRICE WILL SERVICE may still be applicable but we will need to discuss your requirements first to ensure that it is.


If a Standard Will is not appropriate for your needs we will need to discuss your requirements with you in some detail before providing you with a quote.


Who can make a will?

To write and execute a valid Will, a person must have “testamentary capacity”. This is a technical legal term, but a person with testamentary capacity might otherwise be referred to as “being of sound mind”.


In the context of writing a Will, it broadly means you understand that you are making a Will, the value, nature and extent of your estate, and who will benefit from its provisions.


You must be over 18 years of age to write a valid Will in England or Wales (except for certain members of our armed forces where the age restriction is lower).

Inheritance Tax

Inheritance Tax (or IHT), is levied on a persons estate when they die. If you require specialist advice in relation to IHT, please contact us for details of our services and our costs.

When should I change my Will?

You do not need to make a new Will if anyone named it in changed address- you can simply leave a note of the new details with your Will.


We advise that you should review your Will every two to five years, and it is essential when there is any major change in your life, such as marriage, separation, divorce, remarriage, a death or birth in the family.

Where should I keep my Will?

Sutton McGrath Hartley can provide safe storage of your Will without annual charge.

If later on in life I am unable to manage my own affairs can I arrange for someone to manage them for me?

This is possible by way of a Lasting Power of Attorney which is a separate legal document that can be made at any time, but need not come into effect until you are incapable of managing your own affairs.


Although you cannot make provision for this in your will, Sutton McGrath Hartley can assist with the preparation and registration of this document. Please contact us for further details.

Civil Partnerships

The dissolution of a civil partnership has the same effect on the partners’ Wills as does divorce for married couples. The formation of a civil partnership revokes the partner’s Will unless made in contemplation of their civil partnership. If you are (or about to be) in a civil partnership, please tell us.


If I divorce does it affect my Will?

• A divorce treats a former spouse as if they have predeceased you. No gift will pass to them, and even if they are named as executors they cannot act as such. However, the rest of the Will remains valid.


• Marriage and remarriage are somewhat different. A marriage usually cancels any previous Will.


• As a result you could find you have no Will at all and the Intestacy Rules would apply.


• If you have a set date for a wedding please inform us so that an appropriate clause can be included in the Will to prevent your Will from being cancelled.


• If you are married and co-habit with a new partner without getting divorced, do make sure you make provision for your new partner and any children. Otherwise, the legal spouse might be able to inherit under a Will you have made and not cancelled, or under any Intestacy Rules.

Assets which may not be covered by provisions in your Will

• Death benefits under a pension scheme are usually distributed at the discretion of the pension fund trustees. You should therefore let them know of your wishes. Often, they will require you to complete a nomination form indicating who you would like to benefit. We would recommend that you review your nominations regularly.


• Life assurance policies, if written in Trust, are payable to the named person(s), whatever your Will may say. Policies should be checked and if you wish us to advise or assist, we can do so.


• Assets in joint names may pass to the survivor. If you wish to leave your share of jointly-owned assets to someone other than your co-owner you may need to make sure that the way you own the property allows this to happen. Under a joint tenancy the asset will automatically pass to the co-owner, whereas ownership as tenants in common means you can decide who inherits your share. We can provide specialist advice in this area should you require it.


• Foreign assets – Your Will(s) may not be effective to pass property which you own which is located outside England and Wales. We do not offer advice on foreign assets as part of our standard Will drafting service. If you inform us that you own property abroad and that you require advice in relation to it we may direct you to an alternative specialist advisor if you wish us to do so.

Can I prevent my partner leaving assets inherited from me to someone I would not want to benefit?

This can be achieved by placing assets into Trust on death in your estate.


Examples include:


• Giving the right to live in your home to your partner during your partner’s lifetime (or perhaps until your partner’s (re)marriage)


• Giving your partner the right to the income generated from the remainder of your estate during your partner’s lifetime (or until your partner’s (re)marriage).


Trustees can also be given discretion to distribute capital in cases of need.

Witnessing the Will

There are strict legal formalities that must be complied with when a Will is signed and we will provide you with clear detailed instructions relating to these.

Must I leave anything to my family?

Legally you are free to leave assets as you wish and you can exclude family members.


However, please note that if you do not make suitable provision for immediate family and financial dependents, they may be able to contest your Will and claim a share of the estate.

What arrangements should be made for my children?

It is advisable to appoint a legal guardian to look after your children in case you both you and your spouse die when your children are under 18 years of age.


The trustees of your estate are able to pay money to the guardians to cover the costs of your children’s maintenance, education and general welfare.


It is important to note that an unmarried father does not automatically become the guardian of his own child when the mother dies, unless he has been appointed guardian.

What happens if I die without a Will?

Everything you own will be distributed under a set of fixed rules established by law, known as the Intestacy Rules.


It is not guaranteed the whole of your estate will pass automatically to your surviving partner and this could impact on their lifestyle after your death.


The law does not make provision for unmarried partners, nor step children and without a Will there will be no automatic provision for them.


If you die without a Will and have no surviving blood relatives your estate goes to the Crown.

What is an executor?

An executor is responsible for administering your affairs when you die.


Spouses can appoint each other as an executor, you can also include your children, a trusted friend or a professional advisor. Being a beneficiary under the terms of your Will does not prevent someone from acting as an executor.


You should consider the appointment of your executors with great care. The legal duties imposed on them are complicated, time consuming and can result in personal liability if not complied with.


Sutton McGrath Hartley Limited are willing to act as executors, either alone, or in conjunction with family or anyone else you wish to appoint.


In addition to obtaining a Grant of Probate, often executors are required to submit Inland Revenue returns and may end up in protracted negotiations over values placed on assets.


Your executor’s responsibilities may extend well beyond dealing with your immediate affairs. They might also need to act as trustees if assets need to be held in trust as your children are under 18 or there are other trust provisions with your Will. Our involvement can ensure smooth on-going management of these assets, without burdening your family.


Sutton McGrath Hartley have an experienced probate team who can ensure your affairs are dealt with efficiently and professionally and ease the burden and responsibility on your family and loved ones. Details of our current fee structure are available on request.


What is a Will?

Your will is a legal statement of your wishes, enabling you to make important decisions that will impact your family and friends after your death.

These include:


• Deciding who will inherit your estate and at what age
• Appointing executors to carry out your wishes
• Implementing provisions to protect assets
• Naming guardians to care for your children
• Minimising inheritance tax liabilities
• What is to happen if the people you want to benefit before you die, die before you?


A properly drafted Will is essential to ensure that you decide what happens to your money, property and possessions after your death.


In addition, it means your family and loved ones are spared a lot of unnecessary work and anguish at a time when they are least able to cope with it.


Having a professionally drafted Will reduces uncertainty and the risk that your decisions will be contested.


A Will can be amended or cancelled at any time enabling you to adjust your wishes at any point.


Other services

Sutton McGrath Hartley can provide the following additional & complimentary services:

  • Professional Executor services
  • Estate Administration services (for non-professional executors)
  • Court of Protection services
  • Powers of Attorney


Any Questions?

If you have any questions about our Will Writing Service or don’t understand any part of the Will Writing Instruction Form, please call us and speak to one of our Will Writing team.

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