WILLS - a very important document

We trust the following information will help but please do not hesitate to contact our team with any query.

At our Stafford office - Jemma Blake - jemma.blake@nowellmeller.co.uk - Tel 01785 252377

At our Stoke on Trent office - Sarah Johnson - sarah.johnson@nowellmeller.co.uk - Tel 01782 813315

What could happen if you don't leave a Will ? - if you do not have a Will then you have no control over what happens to your money, property and belongings when you die. The Rules of Intestacy deal with what happens to the assets of people who have not made a Will.

If you have no family then all your assets will pass to the Crown. Even lifelong friends or partners will have no automatic claim and may well receive nothing.

Some people think, quite wrongly, that everything goes to their surviving spouse or partner if no Will exists. In fact, if you have children or other relatives only a proportion of your estate may pass to your surviving spouse or partner. The rest is shared with your children or relatives. In some cases, a surviving spouse or partner may be forced to sell the family home to pay relatives the money that they are entitled by law. If you are not married, your partner is not regarded as a relative and may well receive nothing.

Making a Will is simple: not making one can place an unnecessary burden on those you leave behind.

Independent legal advice  - you will undoubtedly save money with a ‘home-made’ Will but can you be sure that it is legally binding, validly signed and covers every eventuality? By going to a solicitor you can be sure that your Will is legal and correct and that your assets will be distributed as you wish.
Making a Will amendment - if the amendment is only slight, it may be possible to make the change by preparing a codicil to your Will. If, however, you wish to make a number of alterations, it is usually best to make a completely new Will to avoid any confusion.

Review your Will regularly  - we recommend that you review your Will at least once every three years. You should also do so following any change in your circumstances such as a change in financial circumstances or births, deaths or marriages of family or close friends.

Marriage will revoke any Will made before the marriage unless the Will was made in contemplation of the marriage.

If you divorce any gifts to your former spouse would be invalid.

Inheritance Tax - your estate may be liable to Inheritance Tax (formerly Capital Transfer Tax). Currently the Nil Rate Band threshold is £325,000 (April 2010). Any amount over that figure will be taxed at 40%.  Expert advice when drafting your Will may help you to minimise your eventual tax liability.

Nil rate band discretionary trust  - prior to the changes made in the Pre-Budget Report 2007, Nil Rate Band Discretionary Trust Wills were an effective way of ensuring that married couples and civil partners were both able to fully utilise their individual Nil Rate Bands.

Changes made in the Pre-Budget Report mean that these complex Wills are now no longer necessary as a means of avoiding Inheritance Tax. However, there are circumstances where these Wills are still very valuable, for example where there are reasons why the first spouse may not wish the survivor to inherit the entire of the estate outright, but wishes them to have access to the assets if they should require it. This can be a useful tool where step families are involved or as a means of mitigating liability towards care home fees.

If you would like to know more about Nil Rate Band Discretionary Trust Wills then we can meet with you to discuss whether, in view of your particular circumstances, these types of Will would meet your needs.

Free Storage  - once signed, we are happy to store your Will in our safe storage system FREE OF CHARGE and we will of course supply you with a copy for your own records.
Living Wills and Advance Decision/directive - every adult with mental capacity has the right to agree to or refuse medical treatment. This can be done either by a living will or an advance decision/directive. These documents enable you to let your family, friends and the medical profession know your wishes for life sustaining or life prolonging treatments as well as provide directives when preparing for end of life care.

These documents should, where possible be discussed with your GP and should in any event be regularly reviewed to reflect you current wishes and due to changes in medical treatment.