How much does a Will cost?
We understand why this is usually the first question asked. It isn’t however the most important question. Often people tell us they just want something simple. This is based on both wishful thinking, and cost, and often the circumstances require something much more considered.
A Will should not be a standard off the shelf product from someone who does not understand you, your assets and your wishes. Most people would not make an important purchase on price alone and legal advice is like everything else, you get what you pay for. Please read the cautionary tale of Mr D. We offer an initial consultation (a telephone call or online video call) of up to 30 minutes without charge and then we agree a fair fee with you before we do your work and once we understand your circumstances. Our fees for a straightforward single Will start from £495 plus VAT.
We want you to be pleased with what we do for you so that you will recommend us to others. A simple Will usually leaves everything to one person or one group of people and does not create any trusts to protect assets.
The cost of an expert Will is money well spent and should be put in context with the value of your assets that you want to protect and pass on. Remember that one week alone in a nursing home may cost more than £1,500.
We are a couple, do we need separate Wills?
Yes, joint Wills are rare and problematic!
Do I need a Will?
Yes if you are over 18 and have assets. A will is the only way to be sure your wishes will be carried out. We spend a lifetime collecting assets and trying to accumulate some wealth, a Will is one of the most important legal documents you will ever sign. Never rely on the Intestacy Rules or those you leave behind to ‘do the right thing’.
How do I make a Will?
Contact us. We promise to make it easy for you to write your Will and give you the best advice. Remember, initial 30 minute consultations (telephone or online video call) are free.
Do I need to come to your office to make a Will?
Not always but making a Will is very important and face-to-face conversations are usually the best – an online video call is a good way to get started and is ideal if you are out of our area or want to save time. Sometimes we visit clients at their own home and as this usually involves more time our charges will generally be higher to cover this. You must say what will be best for you and we will always try to accomodate. If a person is vulnerable in some way they need to be correctly supported and here face-to-face meetings are usually essential.
Do you advise about Inheritance Tax when I make my Will?
Yes. We give expert advice on the reliefs that are available and how to maximise them. We are STEP members and have considerable experience and expertise. We also work with accountants and Financial Planners to provide solutions.
Can you do something to safeguard assets if I go into a care home?
Yes and our expert advice is essential here because you cannot deliberately deprive yourself of assets so that you cannot pay for your care. Sometimes a person will be eligible for continuing Healthcare Funding from the NHS where they have a primary need for nursing care. In these cases care is provided free of charge by the NHS regardless of means.
We can advise you of ways to safeguard your assets and protect them for your beneficiaries. We advise on the best ways of making gifts and the advantages of creating trusts in your lifetime and by your Will. We also make sure you understand how some legal arrangements can limit you care choices in the future, and this may not be what you want.
What are ‘Tenants in Common’?
This refers to a type of joint ownership of property. If you want to include certain trusts in your Will then you may need to own your property as ‘tenants in common’ and usually (but not always) this will be in equal shares. This means that each person owns a distinct half-share in the property which can then pass or be controlled by their Will. Legally this is different to owning as ‘joint tenants’ where the whole property is owned together, meaning that the property can only pass automatically to the surviving owner. It is easy to become tenants in common so that your Will trusts work. We prepare a joint ownership declaration and advise you about other protection which comes through different types of Land Registry restrictions.
I am a single parent; can my choice of Guardians be challenged after I die?
Yes. Your wishes will be taken into account but if there is a dispute about matters after you die then the Court will be asked to decide what is in your child’s best interests.
We don’t know who to appoint as guardians, can we still make a Will?
Yes. The decision about who to appoint as guardians can be a very tricky one and if you really cannot decide, do not let this stop you making a will. A couple can appoint their respective parents to share the responsibility or nominate other people. You should make appropriate financial provision for the guardians to bring up your children and probably include trusts to protect assets for your children until they are old enough to inherit. It is sometimes advisable for the guardians to be different people to your Executors. Sometimes a separate letter of wishes with your Will can be very helpful.
Can my will and wishes be challenged after I die?
Yes. No one should give you a guarantee that your Will cannot be challenged. As experts we foresee many potential challenges and advise you how to reduce the prospect of a challenge being successful. There are only certain legal grounds upon which a Will can be challenged and only certain people will be able to bring a challenge.
Can you be our executor and will it be expensive?
We are happy to act as a professional executor and trustee. As experts we will add genuine value, please see our page where we explain how we help when someone dies. We have an obligation to provide the best possible advice and will be liable and accountable to your beneficiaries if we do not. We must carry insurance to cover this. If you want us to be your executor and trustee we will tell you about our fees and ask you to confirm that you are happy about them. In the unlikely event that your beneficiaries do not want us to act as your executor, then subject to your lifetime wishes, we will normally agree to renounce our role. We would charge a fair fee to cover this work. We are open and fair about fees and we want happy clients to recommend us to others.
Can our beneficiaries be our executors?
Yes if they are aged over 18 and mentally competent. We advise you about the responsibilities and liability that being an Executor involves. Do not appoint Executors who cannot get on with each other and always consider whether your Executor will have a conflict of interest.
Where is my Will stored?
Usually we store your Will at our office and you keep a copy at home. We also register your Will with Certainty The National Will Register as this gives you and your beneficiaries some additional protection.
How often should my Will be reviewed?
You should review your Will whenever your personal or financial circumstances change significantly. We recommend that you review your Will at least every 5 years.
Should I update my Nil-Rate Band Discretionary Trust Will?
Before 2007 many couples made Nil-Rate Band Discretionary Trust (NRBDT) Wills to ensure each spouse used their ‘Nil-Rate Band’ (NRB) to maximise relief from Inheritance Tax (IHT) and to protect assets for the future.
The NRB is the value (certain assets get special exemptions) that an individual can give away free of IHT, to beneficiaries who are not exempt from IHT, such as children. Charities and a spouse or civil partner benefit from special exemptions. For 2022/23 the NRB is £325,000. There is also an additional ‘residence nil-rate band’ for some couples and individuals.
Before October 2007 if the NRB was not used on first death (to make gifts to beneficiaries who were not exempt from IHT), it was lost to the surviving spouse who was left with only their individual NRB. NRBDT Wills were used to prevent this happening.
In October 2007 the then Chancellor announced changes to the IHT regime for married couples and civil partners allowing the unused NRB to automatically transfer to the survivor.
Now, if a Will on first death leaves everything to the surviving spouse or civil partner, the IHT allowance on second death can effectively be doubled. With the current IHT limit of £325,000 this means a £650,000 IHT allowance on second death.
When Wills are reviewed, we are asked whether couples still need these Trusts given subsequent changes in the Law.
In each case family and financial circumstances will be different and this may affect the advice we give. In many cases we do not advise couples who have existing NRBDT Wills to make alterations.
NRBDT Wills provide a great deal of flexibility. If on first death, in the light of circumstances as they then exist, it is considered appropriate by the Trustees that the surviving spouse takes all the assets within the Trust, a simple form of appointment (a short legal document) can be made to achieve this. The effect will be the same as if the Will had simply left all assets outright to the surviving spouse. Having done this, upon the survivor’s death, a claim can be made for two IHT allowances at the rate then available (which may be higher than when the first spouse died).
There are several reasons however why it may be preferable to implement and use the Trust arrangements. As expert Solicitors we can advise.
The Trust can potentially protect assets for future generations.
The Trust has the potential to protect assets if the surviving spouse or partner gets into financial difficulties, re-marries, or enters means tested long-term care. The survivor might lose mental or physical capacity to deal with their own affairs and this vulnerability may leave them exposed to financial abuse by third parties. The Trustees can be of help and support to the survivor as they get older.
The Trust may also allow greater advantage to be taken of IHT relief applicable to assets which qualify for special IHT reliefs as either Agricultural Property or Business Property. The types of assets involved and assumptions about how they will increase in value needs to be carefully considered. A view will need to be made about whether it would be advantageous for assets to grow in value outside the surviving spouse’s estate, or whether they would be better included on the basis that the Nil-Rate Band will possibly increase more – to an amount ultimately determined on the survivor’s death. There is however no guarantee that the Nil-Rate Band will increase (it has been frozen for several years now), and it could be reduced or abolished. IHT is an important political issue and therefore susceptible to change.
The simplicity of leaving assets outright to one another may well be appealing and will be the best solution for some couples. The multiple benefits of Discretionary Trusts should not be overlooked. Expert Professional advice is essential.
Other forms of Trust may now however be considered more appropriate to NRBDTs, particularly if a couple’s estate is worth more than £650,000. It is important to take advice.
If a couple do just leave things to one another on first death, a formal claim for the un-used allowance of the first to die will need to be made on second death. Accurate record keeping on first death will be essential, particularly if on first death some gifts are made to other beneficiaries and a proportion of the Nil-Rate Band of the first to die is used.
Sometimes a NRBDT is created by a Deed of Variation.
Often a NRBDT will be implemented on first death by loaning the assets to the surviving spouse.
An initial meeting with us is free of charge if you wish to review your Will and find out how we can help you.
Court of Protection Solicitors
The Court of Protection makes decisions about financial or welfare matters for people who are unable to make decisions and where there is no valid Enduring or Lasting Power of Attorney. We advise and help with all types of Court of Protection applications including replacement trustee and gift applications.