At Stephens Wilmot we believe everyone should have a Will, which is one of the most important documents a person may ever own.
A properly drafted Will provides peace of mind and certainty with regard to how (and to who) your estate will be distributed upon your death. If you were to die without a Will you would die intestate. Under the rules of intestacy your estate will automatically be distributed in a way that may not match your wishes.
Creating a Will doesn’t need to be a stressful experience and we will help you set out your wishes regarding the distribution of your estate after your death.
When creating a Will we will ask you to list all of the assets you wish to include in your Will. This could include property you own (in the United Kingdom and overseas), savings, shares, other investments, and personal property. It is important that you tell us about any property you own outside of England and Wales as you may not be able to include this in your Will and may need further advice.
You will need to consider and decide who will receive your property and how you wish it to be distributed after you die – for example, your spouse, civil partner, family, friends, charities.
We will also ask if you have particular wishes for your funeral such as whether you want to be buried or cremated or even whether you want to receive a natural burial (information about family-organised, environmentally-friendly funerals, and natural burial grounds can be obtained from The Natural Death Centre). It should be noted that an expression of funeral wishes is not legally binding but it is normally followed where possible. We recommend that a separate ‘Letter of Wishes’ is prepared in respect of your funeral and stored alongside the Will.
We will also cover any children that may be under 18 years of age when you die as they may need someone to look after them as their legal guardian. You might wish to make arrangements to provide for them financially by using a trust which they can access when they reach a certain age (e.g. 21). It is also important that you disclose to the person drafting the Will whether you have children that are not biologically yours e.g. adopted children or stepchildren. This can have an effect on how certain clauses in the Will might be interpreted.
Whilst creating your Will we will also ask you to name/appoint Executors and Trustees.
Executors are responsible for obtaining a grant of probate and carrying out the instructions expressed in the Will. The whole process can take several months. It can be a complicated job even if the instructions are simple and the estate is small. Ideally, you should choose someone who is familiar with financial matters. You should ensure that the executors are aware of the likely responsibilities and are happy to take on this duty as there are long-term responsibilities involved, particularly if they include a trust in their Will. You must name the persons you wish to appoint as ‘executors’ of your Will. This can be one or more person(s). These could be friends or family members or professional executors such as a solicitor.
If you create a trust in the Will you will need to appoint trustees to oversee and manage the property held in that trust for the benefit of your chosen beneficiaries. Trustees and executors can be the same persons. However, choosing a close friend or relative as a trustee can be potentially problematic as sometimes opinion and prejudice can influence behaviour. Trustees must act objectively and in accordance with the terms of the trust and must fairly consider the interests of the beneficiaries and make their decisions on reasoned grounds. The law places heavy duties and a high standard of care upon trustees. Appointing professionals as trustees can avoid potential conflicts of interest and prevent the heavy burden being placed on family and friends.
To take away the burden from family and friends and to avoid potential conflict you can appoint Stephens Wilmot Solicitors to act as executors in your Will and also appoint us to oversee and manage any trusts you create. Once we have drafted your Will, we will send you a summary of the information we have taken. You can then choose whether to purchase the Will from us and once payment is received we will send you a copy of the Will for you to sign.