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Do I need a will writer?

Moving house can be extremely stressful and your eventual demise is probably not top of your list of things to worry about. However, as the home is usually the largest asset owned by an individual it is important to account for it in the instance of your death.

What is a will writer?

In England and Wales a third of the adult population will die intestate – that is, without making a will. (source:news.bbc.co.uk) If no will has been left, the government divides up your estate in accordance with strict legal rules, and not how you may have liked. This can cause friends and family who were close to you huge amounts of trouble and anxiety.

A Will Writer is a trained professional who will help you write your will. Although it is legally possible for anyone to assist you in this process, it is a good idea to hire someone who will consider your situation and wishes as well as minimizing taxation and potential family disputes.

Why are Will Writers needed when moving house?

It is not legally required to make or amend a will when moving house. Although, you may want to remember that the Law of Intestacy was passed over 80 years ago and only a spouse and children would automatically inherit your assets.

However, today more and more of us are living together without getting married. Should you die, your partner would have no right to the new property – no matter how long you had been together. So, when you move house, it would really be a smart move to get a will drawn up in order to leave your property to the people or person closest to you.

Along with marriage, divorce and the birth of a child, moving house is a major life changing event and the Law Society suggests that you review your will at each of these stages. It may be a good idea to get a Will Writer to check the wording of the will in relation to any property you may own.

If the will already stipulates a specific house (i.e. 22 York Road) to be bequeathed then you should change it to your new address to keep it valid and up-to-date.

Can I really benefit from employing a Will Writer?

Unless you are legally trained or the sum of your property and possessions is less than £285,000 then the short answer is yes!

The recent rise in house prices has helped to increase our worth – which isn’t as great as it sounds. It means that, on death, more people are eligible to be charged the 40% Inheritance Tax due on assets worth more than £285,000 (source:www.direct.gov.uk) A new house is likely to push you up into this bracket, but a Will Writer would be able to advise you on the best ways to minimize this tax. They can suggest different trusts and funds into which your assets can be disbursed without the taxman getting hold of them.

It can be easy to get bogged down and confused by the different trusts available – and whether they would be any good for you. The best thing to do is to contact a Will Writer or Solicitor to see how they could help your family keep your hard earned cash.

When should a Will Writer be consulted?

You can call a Will Writer at any time for advice about making or changing a will. But it is sensible to wait until you have moved into your new house as you cannot bequeath property that you don’t legally own.

Can I afford an approved Will Writer?

A recent survey showed that 8 out of 10 adults believe that we should be protected from untrained and unregulated Will Writers. (source: ICM Research, December 2005.) This suggests that people have had bad experiences with dodgy Solicitors and Will Writers. The best way to avoid disappointment and hassle is to check that your Will Writer has been accredited by The Institute of Professional Will Writers. All IPW Will Writers:

  • are qualified by examination to write Wills and associated documents
  • have £2million Professional Indemnity Insurance cover to protect their clients
  • have undergone a criminal records check
  • undertake regular refresher training to update their knowledge
  • are subject to the IPW disciplinary Code of Conduct
(source: www.ipw.org.uk)

Don’t be tempted by a cheap Will Writer who may not fully understand complicated laws, rules and regulations. The cost for drawing up a will with an accredited Will Writers can vary depending on their experience and how complicated your will may be. Generally the cost can vary between £40 and £140 but it is best to have a ring round to see what prices local solicitors and Will Writers are offering.

Can I make my will online?

There are lots of websites offering to draw up your will very cheaply or even for free. However, the IPW advises strongly against this. An internet questionnaire cannot give you the same amount of advice that a Will Writer or Solicitor can. They can’t answer your questions about the will, nor can they be tailored to your individual needs.

It may seem quick and easy at the time, but there is no point cutting corners. Everything you worked hard for is covered by your will and you need to know that when you die it will go to the right people.

But I don’t understand all the legal terms!

Making a will can be made complicated by all the legal jargon. A Will Writer will be able to explain what they all mean – but here are a few to get you started:

  • Codicil - An extra signed and executed note which amends or adds something to a will.
  • Deed - A legal document which sets out the terms of an agreement, which is signed by both parties.
  • Devi - A Person to whom freehold land is given by a will.
  • Estate - The rights and assets of a person in property.
  • Executor - A person or persons specified to carry out the provisions of a will.
  • Guardian - A person appointed to safeguard/protect/manage the interests of a child.
  • Intestate - Dying without leaving a will.
  • Probate - The legal recognition of the validity of a will.
  • Trust - Property legally entrusted to a person with instructions to use it for another person.
  • Will - A declaration of a person's intentions to distribute his/her estate and assets.

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