Month: December 2015

When Should I Review My Will?

It is easy to think that once you have written a Will, you never have to go back to it, just keep it safe and everything will be settled when you die.  This can, however, be a huge mistake as there are many things which if incorrect have the potential to invalidate a Will.  By no means is this a full and comprehensive list of occasions that a Will should be updated, but here are a few, ranging from significant developments to easily overlooked changes.

  • Marriages

It is possible to write a marriage into a Will before it has happened, using an additional clause featuring the name of the soon-to-be spouse.  If this has not been done, however, the ceremony will revoke any previous Will, so after tying the knot is a time that your plans will need to be reviewed.

  • Births or Adoptions

Whether it is your own new arrivals or grandchildren, updating your Will should be considered when there are any additions to the family.  An essential thought is to put guardians in place for any children under the age of 18, as this is not an easy decision to be made, and certainly not one to be left to the courts.

  • Deaths

In case of the event of being pre-deceased by anybody involved in your Will, it is advisable to have contingency plans for executors, guardians and beneficiaries.  This stands as well, for any executors or guardians who may decide they are no longer able to be part of the process.

  • Divorces

Divorce does not invalidate a Will as when the decree absolute is received the money originally left to your spouse should go back into the remainder of the estate, so any beneficiaries set to receive the residue would simply be receiving more money.  There are problems, however, when everything was to be left to the spouse.  Either way, following a divorce, a Will certainly should be reviewed.

  • Address changes

Whether it’s you, your beneficiaries or your executor moving house, it is essential to update your Will with any new addresses.

  • Selling or buying assets

As any accommodation owned is likely to be the largest asset on a Will, any newly purchased or sold property must be detailed in the document.  Inheritance of anybody else’s property is another important circumstance which needs to be factored in.  In Estate Planning, any smaller belongings such as vehicles or valuable jewellery are known as chattels, and these too should always be considered.  These are the types of items which can be sold or bought without much thought, but your Will should be amended when this happens.

  • Becoming involved with charities

Come retirement and working less, many of us decide to give our time to charities, or perhaps they influence our lives in other ways, so we may like to give back to them after we have gone.  It is possible to leave money to charities, so if you were to get involved with an organisation they can be written into your Will.

  • Deciding that you no longer wish for one of your beneficiaries to inherit

In day to day life, we can’t always get on with everybody, and as sad as it is, we do fall out with others.  If you decide you want to take a beneficiary out of your Will, this can be done with a simple update.  As long as this is done correctly and it is clear to whom the money is now due, these changes will be accepted.

For any advice or information please do not hesitate to call us on 0345 017 8250 or visit our website at http://bit.ly/legalhome

Weirdest Wills

Just 10 of the strangest Wills ever made

  1. Recently financier Keith Owen left the value of his estate to his favourite holiday destination, Sidmouth.  He asked for the money to be spent on planting a million bulbs.  The Will says that the capital is to remain untouched but the approximated £125,000 interest is to be spent bringing blossom to Sidmouth and the surrounding area.  The town has begun planting daffodils in their hundreds.
  1. An anonymous donation was left to clear the National debt of Britain in 1928.  At the time the amount left was £500,000, and due to interest this is now worth more than £350 million.  The anonymous donor specified in the Will that the fortune could only be used when it became enough to pay off the debt in its entirety.  Unfortunately our debt is currently at around £1.6 trillion and the money is yet to be touched.
  1. In 2013, when generous Brit Roger Brown passed away, he left £3500 to be used by a group of his friends, asking that they went for a drink-fuelled weekend away in a European city.
  1. William Shakespeare very harshly left only his second best bed to his widow Anne Hathaway, while the majority of his estate went to his daughter, Susanna. One of our Will writers here at LCS has advised me that if this were to happen now, it would not be considered a reasonable provision and Hathaway would have every right to challenge the Will.
  1. When American comedian Jack Benny passed away in 1974, he arranged for a red rose to be delivered to his widow, Mary Livingstone, every day for the rest of her life.
  1. Portuguese aristocrat Luis Carlos de Noronha Cabral da Camara chose seventy strangers from a phonebook to benefit from his estate thirteen years before his death.  One 76 year old beneficiary said of her very unexpected bequest “Every day you hear of pranks people play on old people”.
  1. In Bolivia in the year 2000 police tried to approach a well-known homeless man to inform him that he was due to inherit the equivalent of £3 million from his late ex-wife.  The man fled from the police and it is thought that to this day he is yet to find out about his inheritance.
  1. An American woman left a legacy of millions of dollars to her dog, a Maltese Terrier named Trouble, cutting out not only two of her four grandchildren, but also an original plan to leave the money to the poor. The hotelier’s other grandchildren were only given their inheritance if they visited their father’s grave annually.
  1. An American man who passed away in 1891 believed that he and his family would be reincarnated together so he set up a $50,000 trust fund to be used for maintenance of his mansion of 21 rooms.  Mr. Bowman’s Will dictated that his servants were to provide dinner every night, on the off chance that the family were hungry when they came back from the dead.  This continued until 1950, when the funds ran out.
  1. Houdini tried to bequest his huge collection of books on magic to the American Society for Physical Research as long as the Research Officer and Editor of their Journal, Mr Bird, would resign.  Mr Bird refused to resign and the books instead went to the Library of Congress.  Houdini’s many rabbits which he used to pull out of hats went to the children of his friends.  To his wife, Houdini left a list of ten words.  These words were selected at random and would be used when Houdini tried to contact his wife from beyond the grave.  Houdini’s widow tried to contact him every Halloween for ten years, but sadly never succeeded.

If you have any other stories please let us know!  For any advice on Wills or Estate Planning please call us on 0345 017 8250 or visit our website at http://bit.ly/legalhome.

THE LCS 12 DAYS OF XMAS

Christmas Tree  THE LCS 12 DAYS OF XMAS  Christmas Tree

 

On the first day of Christmas,

My true love said to me

You need to get a Will in place

jingle bells

On the second day of Christmas,

My true love said to me

You need a Lasting Power of Attorney

And you need to get a Will in place

jingle bells

On the third day of Christmas,

My true love said to me

Protect your home with a Property Trust

You need a Lasting Power of Attorney

And you need to get a Will in place

jingle bells

On the fourth day of Christmas,

My true love said to me

Call LCS on 0345 017 8250

Protect your home with a Property Trust

You need a Lasting Power of Attorney

And you need to get a Will in place

jingle bells

On the fifth day of Christmas,

My true love said to me

When a loved one dies

Call LCS on 0345 017 8250

Protect your home with a Property Trust

You need a Lasting Power of Attorney

And you need to get a Will in place

jingle bells

On the sixth day of Christmas,

My true love said to me

If you need legal help and advice

When a loved one dies

Call LCS on 0345 017 8250

Protect your home with a Property Trust

You need a Lasting Power of Attorney

And you need to get a Will in place

jingle bells

On the seventh day of Christmas,

My true love said to me

I know who you can go to

If you need legal help and advice

When a loved one dies

Call LCS on 0345 017 8250

Protect your home with a Property Trust

You need a Lasting Power of Attorney

And you need to get a Will in place

jingle bells

On the eighth day of Christmas,

My true love said to me

When things in life go wrong

I know who you can go to

If you need legal help and advice

When a loved one dies

Call LCS on 0345 017 8250

Protect your home with a Property Trust

You need a Lasting Power of Attorney

And you need to get a Will in place

jingle bells

On the ninth day of Christmas,

My true love said to me

It is really good to know that

When things in life go wrong

I know who you can go to

If you need legal help and advice

When a loved one dies

Call LCS on 0345 017 8250

Protect your home with a Property Trust

You need a Lasting Power of Attorney

And you need to get a Will in place

jingle bells

On the tenth day of Christmas,

My true love said to me

Peace of mind at last

It is really good to know that

When things in life go wrong

I know who you can go to

If you need legal help and advice

When a loved one dies

Call LCS on 0345 017 8250

Protect your home with a Property Trust

You need a Lasting Power of Attorney

And you need to get a Will in place

jingle bells

On the eleventh day of Christmas,

My true love said to me

There is an Angel in disguise

Peace of mind at last

It is really good to know that

When things in life go wrong

I know who you can go to

If you need legal help and advice

When a loved one dies

Call LCS on 0345 017 8250

Protect your home with a Property Trust

You need a Lasting Power of Attorney

And you need to get a Will in place

jingle bells

On the twelfth day of Christmas,

My true love said to me

Make LCS your first call

There is an Angel in disguise

Peace of mind at last

It is really good to know that

When things in life go wrong

I know who you can go to

If you need legal help and advice

When a loved one dies

Call LCS on 0345 017 8250

Protect your home with a Property Trust

You need a Lasting Power of Attorney

And you need to get a Will in place

 

dancing santa

DIY is for shelves, not Wills

Low in price, Do It Yourself Will Kits can be very appealing: they have instructions; they can be completed in your own time and nobody else needs to get involved in your affairs.  Sometimes, however, Wills aren’t as simple as a blank page template and when they go wrong, they go very wrong.  Below are just a few of the common issues with DIY Will kits.

  • Listing all assets can cause problems

Many people decide to list everything they currently own when faced with a blank page Will kit, the problem being that it is rather unlikely that every single thing you own will remain the same – you may choose to open new bank accounts or sell that watch.  Professionals in the field can assist you with all the clauses which will cover all eventualities to save you having to update your Will every time you buy something new.  It is also easy to miss things when trying to list all of your belongings.

  • Alternate Scenarios

It may be a difficult and harrowing task but it is necessary to consider all possible occurrences when writing a Will.  Many of us fail to consider back up plans should any beneficiaries, executors or trustees pre-decease us or become unable or unwilling to execute the wishes of the Will come the time.  It is also recommended to have second options for guardians for any children.

  • Knowing your beneficiaries

Any details of beneficiaries must be correct and concise.  Names and addresses are most useful.  “My best friend Julie” will not suffice as no doubt many people will come forward purporting to be Julie.

  • Clarity

Being concise is essential in Will writing, longwinded clauses should not be included.  It is best to simply state an item, followed by a beneficiary.  When working with a Will kit it is easy to get carried away and complicate things.

  • Somebody must know where your Will is stored

If nobody knows where your Will is stored, or equally important, that you’ve even written one, it is impossible for your wishes to be put in place.  It is vital that somebody you trust knows that you’ve made a Will and where it is.

  • Children and Trusts

A person under the age of 18 may not inherit anything directly.  Any money must be put into a trust until the child reaches the age specified in the Will, or if not specified, 18.  If well written, however, a Will can allow a child to access funds for important things like education or private healthcare.

  • Children and Guardians

When using a blank page Will kit it’s possible to miss things.  A part often overlooked is setting guardians for children under 18.  This is a decision not to be taken lightly and is certainly not one to be left to the courts.

  • Getting your figures right

When trying to distribute your estate between several people, for example children, and you do not wish to give equal proportions, the maths can become an issue. This is a part which needs to be worked out correctly and expressed clearly.

  • Neglecting legal formalities

An example of negligence of legal Estate Planning formalities is the story of the late Mr Aregbesola and his daughter Tinuola.  Mr Aregbesola made a Will – using a rather basic service – stating that he would leave half of the value of his London property to Tinuola.  The London property was owned jointly with Mr Aregbesola’s wife, who is not Tinuola’s mother.  Unfortunately, upon writing the Will, the joint tenancy agreement was not severed, meaning nothing went to Tinuola, the result – a lengthy and costly legal battle for a person already dealing with loss and grief.  With the use of basic Will kits, it is easy to neglect simple formalities such as the severing of joint tenancies.  Find the full story here – http://bit.ly/tgwills.

  • Failing to give all necessary powers to any executors or trustees

In a professionally written Will, there will typically be a part which gives all required consent to a person’s executors or trustees, in order for them to be able to deal with the estate.  This is a clause which is very important and is almost impossible to write without some professional direction.

  •  Beneficiaries must not serve as witnesses

It is a common misconception that your beneficiaries can witness the signing of a Will.  Due to the fact that this document gives them the right to inherit part of your estate, beneficiaries may not be witnesses as this has the potential to invalidate the document entirely.

  • Signing correctly is essential

In order to be valid, a Will must be witnessed by two adults; meaning the three of you, in the same place, signing the document at the same time.  Confusion can come from the fact that in Scotland and some areas of the United States of America until 1995, if your Will was written in your own handwriting, no witness signatures were required.

  • ‘Residual Clause’

A Will must have a section which describes what will happen to the remainder of the estate.  Once any debts have been settled, taxes have been paid and funeral costs are dealt with, any beneficiaries’ bequests will be made.  Any money left over following this – the residue – must be considered.

  • Changes must be made officially

Handwritten changes are a big no in Wills.  Any changes must be written into the Will correctly or they may not be considered.  Read the story of Eileen McCormack here – http://bit.ly/tgdiywills. Eileen’s cousin George hand wrote his Will despite being advised by family that it may not be valid.  George regularly made changes, and did so by penning side notes on to the document in varying coloured inks.  Sadly upon George’s death he left his family with the turmoil of having to go through the courts to determine where his money would go, adding charges to the whole process, diminishing the money that George was glad to be leaving for his loved ones, having taken much pride in it.

  • Conditional Bequests

For some of us, it is tempting to try to control things after we have gone.  There are many stories of people ending ‘I leave £50,000 to my son…’ with ‘if he marries’ or ‘if he graduates from university’.  Bequests like these can cause issues as the executor of the Will would have to hold on to the funds until the conditional action takes place.  Another example is ‘I leave my watch to my daughter provided she never sells it’, this is something which cannot easily be monitored.

 

It has been estimated that a problem with a Will can cost up to 10% of the value of an estate in fees, so on the basis of a £300,000 estate, that’s a loss of £30,000.  This is why it is really important to take careful consideration with Will writing.

Please feel free to contact us with any experiences you’ve had with DIY Wills (whether they’re positive or negative) or for further advice and information!  Call us on 0345 017 8250 or visit our website at http://bit.ly/legalhome.

The Importance of Making a Will

A recent UK survey by YouGov has taught us that hundreds of thousands of people are passing away each year without having made a Will.  The aim of this blog post is to rule out the common misconceptions, to show just how essential it is to make a Will.

 

  1. “We’ve lived together for ten years, we have two children, we’re not married but I know that if the worst were to happen, all of my assets would go to my partner.”

Sadly, this may not be the case.  The latest statistics show that 74% of cohabiting couples have not made a Will, with many of them using this as their reason.  When a person dies intestate – without a Will – there are rules in place which determine the way that the estate is to be distributed.  This process can be very drawn out and complicated; an unnecessary extra stress for family and friends.

  1. I keep meaning to make a Will but I just haven’t got round to it.”

In the aforementioned YouGov survey, 32% of those who had not made a Will used this as an excuse. We have all experienced those weeks that turn into months and disappear before us, but it is far too often that we hear horror stories of families who have had to deal with even more stress than expected following the death of a loved one.  Take the late Rik Mayall’s family for example, following his unexpected death they were left with a large estate to take care of, and to go with it, a very hefty tax bill.  Read the full story of Rik Mayall here http://dailym.ai/1NldQSE.

  1. “I made a Will years ago, things have changed but that doesn’t matter.”

A Will needs to be updated whenever there is a change in life, be it simple or significant. Ranging from address changes and marriages to new births and deaths, anything incorrect or left out has the potential to invalidate your Will.

  1. My husband has a Will, so I don’t need one.”

It is essential for both halves of a marriage or partnership to make Wills.  Couples often opt for ‘Mirror Wills’ which are very similar or identical and ensure that both partners will be cared for and considered.

  1. “My children would be fine if anything were to happen.”

Making a Will allows you to determine who would be the guardian of your children if you were to die before they reached the age of 18.

The director of Bereavement Services at Child Bereavement UK, Ann Rowland, recommends the best ways to discuss the subject with our little ones to ensure that they will always feel safe and secure.

“Talking to children about who would love and care for them if you weren’t around gives them a sense of security. Sadly I have worked with children whose parents have died suddenly with no plans in place, leaving them anxious about whether their guardians really want them or not. The best way to combat these fears is to appoint a guardian at an early stage, and to allow natural discussions about death and dying to develop between yourself and your children, so that they accept there are plans in place for them should the worst happen.”

Without this forward planning, it is up to the court to decide who will look after a child, family being the first choice or social care if there are no relatives or friends to be considered.

 

Making a Will is much simpler than many people realise.  All that’s required is the names and addresses of any beneficiaries and executors; the deeds of any properties owned will also be essential, as well as details of vehicles and any other significant belongings; and finally, information on any money owed, such as car loans and mortgages.