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Free wills: what you need to know

Posted on: 26th September 2017

Every year, people aged 55 and up are offered the chance to get their will written as part of Free Wills Month. With this year’s campaign set to launch on 2 October, Ian Lane, private client solicitor at law firm Hodge Jones & Allen outlines five things people should think about before they make their will:

1) Think carefully about your executors

When you go to your solicitor be sure to have thought carefully about who you want to appoint as your executor. You can have more than one executor but no more than four. Upon your death, they are legally responsible for distributing your estate in accordance with the terms of your will. Beneficiaries of your will can also be executors.

Handling the full administration of someone’s estate can be time-consuming and can take months or even years, so you should ensure you have spoken to the individual(s) about this, making sure they understand what is involved.

When you go to see your solicitor to make your will, be sure to take the full name(s) and addresses of your executors with you. Once your will is written, you should also make sure you tell your executor where the will is stored.

2)  Consider your children?

Any individual may appoint guardians of their minor children (that is to say children under the age of 18) in a will. This is a very useful authority and is often the driving force behind the making of a will. You can be assured that your children will be looked after by the person or persons you most trust with that responsibility

3) Know the value of your estate

Be clear about the total value of your estate. Write down the value of all your major assets including: your home (or your share in it), other property or land, cars and other vehicles, items of particular value, such as jewellery or art, savings and shares, life insurance and pensions.

4) Who will benefit?

You will need to provide your solicitor with the full names and addresses of anyone you wish to benefit from your estate – often called the residuary estate – once any liabilities have been paid and after any specific gifts of property or money have been given to the intended beneficiaries.

If you want to gift money or specific items to people, you will need to list the items or amounts and provide the name and addresses of the beneficiaries.

5) Be tax aware and ask your solicitor about the new Residence Nil-Rate Band

The government raked in £4.9 billion in inheritance tax in the year end to April – up 4% a modest increase when compared with last year’s 22% increase but still showing an upward trend.

The threshold for paying inheritance tax is currently set at £325,000 but there are exemptions and reliefs available for certain types of gifts and property. Plus, there is no inheritance tax to pay on gifts left to a spouse, civil partner or UK-registered charity.

Also, there is the residence nil-rate band, introduced on 6 April 2017 and starting at £100,000 per person that provides additional relief against inheritance tax where your main residence is left to direct descendants, i.e. children, grandchildren step, adopted or foster children.

Ian Lane, partner at Hodge Jones & Allen says: “Put simply, a will enables you to direct to whom and to what purpose your property is to be put after your death. It therefore provides you with a considerable measure of control. This is desirable if you have young children and need to be sure that any property left for them is properly invested and distributed to them when their needs are most urgent.”

Ends

Free Wills Month launches on 2 October 2017. Hodge Jones & Allen has supported a number of free wills incentives including St John’s Hospice. and Marie Curie Cancer Care and will continue to do so.

Ends

For further information, please contact:
Kerry Jack or Nicola Pearson at Black Letter Communications on 020 3567 1208 or at kerry.jack@blacklettercommunications.co.uk or nicola.pearson@blacklettercommunications.co.uk

Notes for Editors

Hodge Jones and Allen

  • Hodge Jones and Allen is one of the UK’s most progressive law firms, renowned for doing things differently and fighting injustice. Its senior partner is Patrick Allen, recently awarded a lifetime achievement award by Solicitors Journal and managing partner, Vidisha Joshi (recent winner of an Asian Woman of Achievement Award).
  • For 40 years’ the firm has been at the centre of many of the UK’s landmark legal cases that have changed the lives and rights of many people.
  • The firm’s team of specialists have been operating across: Personal Injury, Medical Negligence, Industrial Disease, Civil Liberties, Criminal Defence, Court of Protection, Dispute Resolution, Employment, Family Law, Military Claims, Serious Fraud, Social Housing, Wills & Probate and Property Disputes.

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