Wills & Probate | Making A ‘Simple Will’ Because It’s Cheaper?
Updated: Aug 7
Whenever I read the words ‘Simple Will’ in an advert I get nervous. Not because it’s typically an advert from a perceived competitor, they are not competitors at all. But because the advert is, in my well thought out opinion, Simply Dangerous. There really is nothing simple about a Will, and if you’re offered one and considering it based on price, have a read of this and think again. So, the first thing to think about is that the person making Will must be at least 18, and they need to be clear about who should benefit from their estate after they are no longer here. If we are talking property, that would include bricks and mortar, money, investments, cars. In fact, anything tangible and movable. That includes pets by the way. That sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? Maybe, but a Will is a legal document and needs to be written as such. At this point, I’m thinking about people that have bought a Will pack and written their own. How on earth can you be sure it’s legally sound? The company selling it makes it foolproof to use right? No, they make money on selling you a tool that you operate. If things go wrong, try to sue them. That might not be so simple. Use any language that isn’t clear, or if the Will is written in a way that is ambiguous, and the courts may need to be called upon to interpret the person’s intentions. That’s not so cheap, or simple, believe me. Let’s assume you’re smart enough to go to a professional that is going to write it for you. Now you’re faced with a few quotes each differing in scale, and then someone really cheap, but says he does the same as all the other ‘more expensive’ guys, only in a fraction of the time. In fact, you can be in and out in under an hour, Will in hand. Have a think about some of the things here below. In addition to all the property and who you might want to leave some, or all of it, too, tax is always a discussion point when it comes to Wills. Your estate will pay 40% over of anything over £325,000 (in the current tax year) unless you make any provisions otherwise. What does that mean? Well, if you have an estate of £1m, the first £325,000 passes to your chosen beneficiaries tax-free, leaving an amount of £675,000. At 40% that means the taxman gets his grubby little hands on £270,000. You might be thinking, well I haven’t got £1m. Perhaps, but take a piece of paper and add up the value of your property, any investments, cash in the bank, other savings, life policies that aren’t written into trust (if you don’t know what that means, more of a reason to get advice). I bet if you live in the south, you’ll be worth a lot more than you thought you were. Remember if you have any life cover at all, you’re worth more dead than you are alive. Now there’s a sobering thought. What about the Residence Nil Rate Band, or the RNRB as it it’s commonly referred to? HMRC does love an acronym – no pun intended, and for those who don’t know, HMRC is the taxman. That alone needs some significant thought (the RNRB, not tax man…although come to think of it….). What about the way the property should be held after the first to die if there are two of you? Questions questions, and who provides the answers… Then there are a host of other things, including choosing the right Executors, and Trustees. When could you use the same people for both? What happens to the children if you die before they are 18? Who do you appoint as guardians? Who next if your chosen guardian dies before you? If you are leaving gifts to anyone does the estate pay the tax on that or do you want the beneficiary to pay it. What even is the estate?? What about if you die, and your spouse or partner remarries? Do you want your assets to go entirely to them or do you want to ringfence some for them and some for the children? If you can go through all that, read and understand the attendance notes (that you should insist on seeing) make the decisions and understand the consequences and risks, have the document printed and executed and walk out with it in your hand in under an hour, then you didn’t ‘go through all that’ In other words, you took a short cut, or rather, a Simple Will. This information provided in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice and each relationship breakdown requires careful consideration in our view by a fully qualified Solicitor before decisions are made and before you embark on a certain course of action. Wills, Trusts and Probate team Penn Chambers Solicitors 0207 183 1485