An expert service to help you ensure the security of future generations.
Estate planning starts with making a Will, an important step that can later help families at a difficult and painful time by avoiding the added stress of dealing with legal complications.
At Weightmans, we understand that each individual's circumstances are unique and pride ourselves on preparing Wills suited to your particular needs.
Our expertise includes:
- Drafting Wills at all levels of complexity
- Inheritance tax planning through Wills
- Protecting the rights of cohabitees
- Wealth protection and trust creation for different family members and future generations
Our Wills team is well placed to help even where there's already a Will in place. It's vital that Wills are reviewed regularly to take into account changes in both circumstances and the law. It's also important to review Wills after marriage or divorce, or where there are children from a previous relationship.
Inheritance tax planning and Will drafting often go hand in hand, but Wills aren't all about money. They also deal with issues such as funeral arrangements, nominating guardians for young children and the distribution of personal possessions.
So whether you’re writing a new Will, or updating your current one, we'll work with you to tailor our service to best meet your needs.
Frequently asked questions
What will happen if I die without a Will?
If you die without a Will, the distribution of your estate (your personal possessions, money and property) will be dealt with under the rules of intestacy (a set of legal rules which dictate who will benefit). The intestacy rules are rigid and may not reflect your wishes, for example, they make no provision for unmarried partners. The intestacy rules also govern who is entitled to deal with the administration of your estate.
Making a Will is the only way to ensure your estate passes to your chosen beneficiaries. It also enables you to choose your executors, appoint guardians for young children, include cash gifts or gifts of specific items, and detail your funeral wishes. It may be appropriate to include a trust structure in your Will to offer a degree of protection for your chosen beneficiaries or to allow flexibility for future generations to use the trusts for their own wealth/tax planning.
Will my estate automatically pass to my spouse or partner?
Even if you are married, your spouse is not necessarily entitled to benefit from your whole estate on your death. The intestacy rules are constantly subject to change and the outcomes of dying without a Will can be surprising and often unjust. Making a Will is the only way to ensure your loved ones are provided for in accordance with your wishes.
The intestacy rules do not make any provision for unmarried partners. The best way to ensure a cohabiting partner is provided for is to make a Will.
What else can I include in my Will?
As well as dealing with the distribution of choosing who will benefit from your estate and choosing who will administer your estate, your Will can guide your family and friends on your funeral wishes, include gifts of specific items (such as your car or jewellery), cash gifts to individuals or charities and specific provision for your agricultural and business assets. You can also appoint guardians for young children and detail your funeral wishes.
Your Will can also be a useful tool to retain a degree of control over how your assets are dealt with after you die and for inheritance tax planning.
How often do I need to change my Will?
You should review your Will regularly to ensure it continues to reflect your wishes and circumstances. As your personal and/or financial circumstances change, you should consider updating your Will. Examples include:
- Marriage will automatically revoke any Will you had in place previously.
- Change in family circumstances, for example having children or grandchildren.
- Significant changes in your financial situation
In any event, we suggest reviewing your Will at least every three years to assess whether there have been any changes to the law or tax allowances which would necessitate a change to your Will.
Scarle v Scarle and the ’commorientes’ rule: who died first?
HHJ Philip Kramer, sitting as a judge of the High Court, gave his judgment last Tuesday (13 August 2019) in the matter of Scarle v Scarle.
Family investment companies – an option worth considering
A Family Investment Company is a company, created by and for family members that typically will hold investments rather than operate a trade.David Stokes Principal Associate
First instance, the appeal and “standing still” in claims under the Inheritance Act
Cowan v Foreman  EWCA Civ 1336 has just gone before the Court of Appeal
Inheritance Provision for Family and Dependants Act 1975; claims, limitation periods and pre nuptial agreements
The High Court of England and Wales has recently rejected a claim for reasonable financial provision from the estate of Michael Frederick HendrySally Cook Solicitor
LEGAL COMMENT: Winding up the affairs of someone who has died
BBC Radio 4’s 'Money Box' today discussed the complexities involved in winding up the affairs of someone who has died.Richard Bate Partner
View Richard’s profile
View James’s profile
View Sally’s profile
John-Paul DennisPrincipal Associate
View John-Paul’s profile
View Courtney’s profile
David StokesPrincipal Associate
View David’s profile
Sarah Louise WalkerPrincipal Associate
View Sarah Louise’s profile
View Lorraine’s profile