Experienced Will Solicitors in London
An up-to-date, properly drafted Will can make it easier for family and friends to deal with your affairs after your death. As experienced Will solicitors in London, Docklands Solicitors aim to make the whole process of having a Will drafted as straightforward for you as possible. As with everything we do, we handle matters relating to Wills with sympathy, professionalism and the utmost discretion, and you can be assured of outstanding service at all times.
The Importance of a Will
There is often a belief that if you are married or in a civil partnership then you do not need to make a Will as your entire estate will automatically pass to your spouse or partner upon your death. However, this is a common misconception and is not necessarily the case. If you die without making a valid Will then your assets will be distributed in accordance with the statutory intestacy rules. The “rules of intestacy” are a generic set of rules that apply to all estates where no valid Will is present and, as such, these rules may not necessarily reflect how you would wish your estate to be divided up. This can mean that your wife, husband or partner may not inherit your property and possessions, and even your home may not pass to your chosen beneficiaries. More information on intestacy can be found on our Intestacy Rules page.
It is thought that almost two-thirds of UK residents do not have a valid Will, while one in 10 of those who have set out how they wish their estate to be distributed have not told anybody where their Will is stored. When an individual dies without leaving a valid Will or their Will cannot be located, the repercussions for their friends and family can be devastating, and the financial implications significant.
The Hidden Benefits of Making a Will
A professionally drafted Will not only provides peace of mind and ensure that your estate is divided up according to your wishes, but it also provides many other benefits too, including:
- Provision for the ones you love, whatever the circumstances: If you are in a relationship and are not married or do not have a registered civil partnership, your partner will not automatically inherit your estate unless you specifically state that it is your wish for them to inherit your assets. If an individual in such a relationship dies intestate, this can lead to serious financial problems for the surviving partner;
- Protection for your children: Having a valid Will is particularly important for the parents of young children, as it will enable the appointment of legal guardians of the children also make provisions for somebody to look after their inheritance until they reach 18;
- Reduction of inheritance tax and legal costs: If you take advice and make a Will, you may be able to reduce the amount of inheritance tax your estate will pay, and you may also be able to keep the legal costs of administering your estate to a minimum;
- Reduce the risk of your estate being contested: In recent years there has been a significant rise in the number of claims being made against the estates of deceased individuals, and the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 allows certain people to make a claim against an estate, even if the deceased had no intention of leaving the individual any money or assets. By seeking legal advice and making a Will you could significantly reduce the likelihood of a successful claim being made.
Reviewing an Existing Will
Many people who do have a Will create it when they get married, have children or after they have accumulated significant assets. These initial Wills are often forgotten about once they have been drawn up and stored in a safe place. However, circumstances change, and what was once an accurate reflection of how you would like your estate distributed in the event of your death may no longer be the case. While some people think that updating a Will is too time-consuming or expensive, others don’t want to think about death and the important decisions it involves. Either way, the Will is left unchanged, which is sometimes a big mistake.
The expert Tax & Estate Planning Team at Docklands Solicitors recommends reviewing your Will every three to five years or so in order to take account of changes to your personal circumstances and any tax laws. It could be that you now have grandchildren that you would like to provide for; you may have more than one property and may therefore want to change beneficiaries; or it could be that your previous relationship has ended and you would like your estate distributed differently. It’s also worth noting that with the recent changes to rules on pension funds, you may be able to take advantage of the new regulations to improve the tax efficiency of your future plans.
There are many good reasons for reviewing your Will from time to time, some of which are listed below:
- Addition of new family members: If you have had more children since you created your Will you should review it to ensure that you have: (a) made provisions for a family member or other trusted person to act as a guardian of the minors (under 18 years of age) in your immediate family, (b) designated a person, bank or trust company as a “trustee” to manage and safeguard any assets inherited by your children until you feel they are old enough to manage them themselves, (c) specify the age at which your children will receive part or all of the inheritance you leave them, and (d) if you have more than one child, specify which child receives which possessions.
- Tax law changes: The rules on tax are constantly changing, and it is important to review your Will in order to ensure that your estate doesn’t have to pay any more than it needs to.
- Divorce or death: In the event you get divorced, you and your attorney should immediately review your will, trust, retirement accounts, life insurance policy and other estate documents to make sure your former spouse does not receive assets you no longer intend to leave to him or her. Likewise, if your spouse passes away, you should review your estate plans to make certain you have outlined how you would like your assets distributed upon your death.
- Inheritance or unexpected change in assets: If you receive a large sum of money (a settlement, lottery winnings or other windfall) or inherit significant assets (a home, land, trust fund, brokerage account, etc.), you should consult with an attorney about any legal and tax impact of this additional wealth. In these cases, you may be able to avoid a heavy tax burden by being creative with your estate plans. Planned giving offers several ways to reduce taxes and provide for your loved ones while ensuring your wishes are fulfilled.
- Charitable goals: If you would like to designate part of your estate to a charity or you have certain philanthropic objectives that you would like your estate to fulfil, you can do so by establishing a bequest in your will or living trust, or by designating the charity as a beneficiary. This is relatively simple to do and allows you to provide future support to a charitable purpose that is important to you.
Succession planning often involves more than just making a Will. It can also involve the formulation of a succession strategy to ensure that your estate is shared out amongst the right people, at the right time and that the right controls are in place when that happens. As an example of how a succession strategy can benefit your loved ones in the event of your death, you may wish to leave a percentage of your estate to your grandchildren rather than your children, for the purposes of inheritance tax planning, but with your children having full control over the way in which the assets are handled. Although not as straightforward as a standard Will, this type of succession can usually be achieved through various legal and administrative mechanisms. You may also wish to consider tax planning and lifetime gifts and trusts. We can help you decide on a succession strategy and then execute it within the constraints of the legal and tax frameworks.
Wills and Succession Planning Advice You Can Trust
As experiencedWill solicitors in London, Docklands Solicitors have extensive experience of helping families and individuals protect what is important to them. Making a Will can be a challenging and complex task and can require expert legal knowledge in order to ensure that your estate is divided up according to your wishes. Buying an off-the-shelf Will kit and doing it yourself or using an unqualified person to draft your Will can have serious consequences for your loved ones once you are gone, but we are here to help you every step of the way and ensure that your Will is valid and your wishes are respected.
Our friendly and knowledgeable team will guide you through every stage of the Will drafting process and explain everything in clear, easy-to-understand language, avoiding legal jargon and providing you with all the information you need. A Will drafted by Docklands Solicitors will give you complete peace of mind and leave you safe in the knowledge that your affairs – and your loved ones – will be looked after you have gone.
Whether completing a Will for the first time or wanting to review an existing Will, one of the things we will need to do is understand your family circumstances and financial position. We have developed a questionnaire designed to enable you to provide this information to us, please click to download then save, complete and return by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If it is easier you can print and return the form to us prior to, or at your first meeting with us.
Once received, this information forms the basis for our first meeting to enable us to discuss all the elements in details and agree your wishes. We will then be able to draft your Will, agree additional steps, e.g. completion of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) and tax planning actions as relevant. Once drafted, we would recommend a follow up meeting to go through the documents and sign them.
Then you can relax, knowing that you have not only made sure your assets are divided up in accordance with your wishes, but also that you have completed one of the most important ways of protecting your family’s future.
Standard Will Arrangement
At Docklands Solicitors, we think it is important to talk to our clients about succession and tax planning at the same time as helping clients with their Wills. However, we recognise that sometimes a “standard” Will is what is needed. To find out more about what is included in a Standard Will Arrangement and how much it costs, please click here.
Our Promise to You
- We will help you focus on what is best for you.
- We will help you achieve your goals within the best possible time.
- We will explain things using clear non-technical language.
- We will provide you with a clear pricing structure.
All of the Tax & Estate Planning Team at Docklands Solicitors are members of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP). As members of STEP, our lawyers are internationally recognised as experts in their field, with proven qualifications and experience. You can therefore rest assured that you will receive sound legal counsel and outstanding service at all times when dealing with Docklands Solicitors.
Members of the Wills & Inheritance Quality Scheme (WIQS)
Docklands Solicitors are proud to be an accredited member of the Law Society’s Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme (WIQS). Being a member of WIQS shows that we follow best practice to meet the highest standards of professional expertise and client service in providing Wills and probate advice to consumers. In addition, all of the members of our “Tax and Estate” team are WIQS accredited. For more information on what it means to be WIQS accredited, and what it means for you, please see our Wills & Inheritance Quality Scheme Client Charter.
As leading Will solicitors in London, Docklands Solicitors will help to provide complete peace of mind and ensure that your estate is distributed according to your wishes. Whether you would like to review an existing Will or would like us to draft a new Will tailored to your particular requirements, please call us on 020 7531 2990 for a free consultation with our friendly and professional Tax & Estate Planning team