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FAQs Wills

What is a Will?

A Will is a legal document which takes effect on death.  A Will does not affect how you deal with your assets in the meantime: you can still buy, sell or give away your assets as you choose.  That said, if you specifically gift an item in your Will and no longer own it on your death that gift would fail so some degree of caution is required in this regard.  

A Will can be revoked by you at any time so long as you have mental capacity to do so and is automatically revoked on marriage unless it has been made in contemplation of marriage.

What will happen to my estate if I die without a Will?

How an estate is dealt with when a person dies without leaving a valid Will (known as an intestacy/dying intestate) will substantially depend on their individual circumstances.  Married couples often assume that their entire estates will automatically pass to the survivor of them but this is not necessarily the case. For more information see the intestacy flowchart here.

The consequences of passing away without leaving a valid Will can be particularly awful if a married couple die within a short space of time to one another.  Where a married couple each have their own children from an earlier relationship, for example, their estates would pass to the children of the second person to die via the intestacy rules (the law which governs who should inherit an estate if there is no valid Will), excluding the children of the first person to die which is often not what is intended!

Do I need to involve a lawyer in the Will making process?

Whilst you do not need a lawyer to create a valid Will we do strongly recommended that you take legal advice.  There are a number of things which can easily go wrong when a Will is written and executed without the involvement of a suitably qualified lawyer.  There are various issues to consider when making a Will in order to ensure it is valid and drafted in the most appropriate way:

Key issues for a valid will

  • Mental capacity
  • Knowledge and understanding of the Will
  • Any potential claims against your estate
  • Ensuring the words used are clear and unambiguous
  • Absence of undue influence
  • Complying with the legal formalities
  • Inheritance Tax advantages and disadvantages of drafting your Will in a certain way
  • Contentious property and land matters

Some of these issues, if not correctly dealt with, can lead to a Will being challenged either in whole or in part resulting in disproportionately high costs and may cause long-lasting family feuds.

What do I need to think about when making a Will?

It is important that you consider what assets you own and what liabilities you owe (known as your estate) and who you might want to leave your estate to (“Beneficiaries”).  You also need to give some thought as to who you would like to appoint as your Executors (the people responsible for dealing with the administration of your estate).  If you have infant children it is really important to think about who you would want to look after them (known as Guardians).

When should I need to review my Will?

You should review your Will at regular intervals, at least every 5 years, to ensure it still reflects your wishes and that it is still drafted in the most appropriate way bearing in mind any changes in the law which may have occurred in the meantime.  It is important for you to review your Will when there is a change in circumstances such as the birth or death of a family member.

How do I amend my Will?

Wills can be amended by creating a valid Codicil, a document changing one or more clauses within a Will or adding one or more clauses to a Will.  In order to be valid a Codicil has the same requirements as a Will.

How might I revoke my Will?

Wills are revoked automatically on marriage unless they are made in contemplation of marriage.  There are a number of other ways you can revoke a Will but you must have the necessary mental capacity to do so which not only requires an understanding of the revocation itself but also an understanding of the Intestacy Rules (the law governing the distribution of the estate of a person who dies without a Will).  Before revoking a valid Will it is always best to see the advice of a lawyer to understand how to go about it and the consequences of revocation.

How can I protect my estate on my death?

This question has become more frequent in the last few years, typically with people living longer and with complex family structures becoming ever more common.  Often couples want to ensure the survivor of them is well provided for whilst protecting the capital of their estates for their children, grandchildren or other family members.  We can ensure the capital of the estate of the first person to die is protected against a number of possible scenarios including marriage/remarriage of the survivor, financial difficulties of the survivor or family disputes between the survivor and the intended ultimate Beneficiaries which might otherwise result in them being disinherited.

There are a number of different structures we can recommend for inclusion within a Will depending on the individual circumstances, all of which have their own benefits and drawbacks which we would be happy to discuss with you.

 

The Overall Arrangements for Possession Proceedings in England and Wales; Guidance

Bukola Obadun-Craigs
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After several months of possession claims being stayed, the stay has now been lifted. The Master of the Rolls has set up a working group to address concerns about the consequences of the current stay on housing possession claims ending.  The group...

Fines for employers who permit self-isolating workers to work

Desley Sherwin
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The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020 have come into effect from midnight last night.  Regulation 7 makes it an offence for an employer to knowingly permit a worker (including an agency worker) to...

Covid and Cancelling Consumer Contracts

Julia Seary
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On 28 August 2020, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published an updated version of its "Statement on coronavirus (COVID-19), consumer contracts, cancellation and refunds" which was first published on 30 April 2020. The statement now...

Schrems II explained

Julia Seary
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There has been much talk recently within the media and industry of the impact on data protection rules since the announcement of the ‘Schrems II’ judgment, but what is this case and how might it affect us? The Position to Date Data transfers...

Claiming VAT relief on bad debts

Catherine Rickett
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With the world in a very strange place and businesses struggling to pay invoices, there is every possibility that even if you have never fallen victim to a bad payer in the past, you may find yourself with a client who will not, or cannot pay you. If you...

Lifting of Enforcement Restrictions at Residential Properties

Martin Spencer
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COVID-19 and the lockdown brought about some tricky times for the enforcement of judgments. Whilst we have been able to instruct our High Court Enforcement Agents to attend commercial premises, there has been a blanket ban on attending residential...

The Employment Rights Act 1996 (Coronavirus, Calculation of a Weeks Pay) Regulations 2020

Desley Sherwin
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The Employment Rights Act 1996 (Coronavirus, Calculation of a Week’s Pay) Regulations 2020 have been published today and take effect tomorrow, 31 July 2020. The Regulations set out how a week’s pay is to be calculated for a furloughed employee...

Witnessing wills during the Coronavirus pandemic - Video Witnessing Update

Naomi Message
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In normal circumstances we strongly recommend a client making a will (“the Testator”) attends the office initially to take will instructions and again to execute their will and have their will witnessed by two members of staff.  Given the...

Trust Registration Service - Updating your records

Ben Taylor
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The administration of a trust is becoming increasingly comparable to that of a company, with the Trust Registration Service (TRS) and the responsibilities of trustees in respect of that, comparable to those for Companies House. Trustees are required to...

Data Protection: The End of the EU-US Privacy Shield

Julia Seary
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The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is currently reviewing its Privacy Shield and Standard Contractual Clauses guidance following the judgment issued by the ECJ in the case of Data Protection Commissioner v Facebook Ireland and Maximillian...

Coping during the Coronavirus aftermath - key points for farm businesses

Julie Robinson
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Julie Robinson, Head of Agriculture flags up some of the legal issues that are likely to matter as we live through the coronavirus aftermath.   The coronavirus pandemic has impacted on almost every area of our lives. The legal frameworks within which...

Maintaining test-and-trace records of staff, customers and visitors

Julia Seary
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New guidance has been released by the Government on maintaining test-and-trace records of staff, customers and visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic. This guidance applies to establishments in the hospitality, tourism and leisure sectors, and close-contact...

The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020

Julia Seary
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The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 came into force on 25 th June 2020 , with the aim of “Relieving the burden on businesses during the Coronavirus outbreak.” The Act: Provides companies with temporary easements on Companies...

Diary dates - Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Desley Sherwin
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Are you keeping up with the ever-changing CJRS? If not, here’s a handy checklist of relevant dates.  You can download our infographic listing the dates here . 1 July 2020:  This was the start date of the new Flexible Furlough scheme...

Covid-19 - response update

Julia Seary
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As you will be aware, this month the Government eased the lockdown measures in England.  As from 15 June 2020, non-essential retail premises were permitted to open, as were drive-in cinemas, retail art galleries, betting shops, auction houses,...

How do I appoint a new manager for my building?

Bukola Obadun-Craigs
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Why appoint a new manager? Leaseholders are very often unhappy with the management of their block. Disputes over reasonableness of service charge is one of the main reasons for looking for a change, as they see their service charges increasing without...

Flexible Furlough

Desley Sherwin
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Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses remain unable to operate at all. Others are starting to operate, albeit on a reduced basis. From 1 July 2020, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been modified so that employers can start to...

How using a lawyer can help your personal injury claim

Lynda Thompson
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One of the things we are often asked is ‘ Why should I use a lawyer to handle my personal injury claim? ’.  It’s a fair question and it is indeed possible to handle a claim yourself, but there are a number of benefits to taking the...

The Code of Practice for Commercial Property Relationships and Further COVID-19 Protections for Tenants (Update)

Sarah Whitehurst
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Extensions to Existing Reliefs Section 82 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 provides that a right of re-entry or forfeiture under a relevant business tenancy for non-payment of rent may not be enforced, by action or otherwise during the relevant period. ...

Can you recover debts during the pandemic?

Martin Spencer
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Can we still pursue debts in the COVID-19 pandemic? Yes! Whilst we are asking our clients to take a ‘common-sense approach’ with their debtors at this time, we appreciate that cashflow is even more important now and in most situations, debt...

Mandatory Electrical Safety Regulations from 1 July 2020

Bukola Obadun-Craigs
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The Electrical Safety Standards in Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 From 1 July 2020, private landlords will be required to ensure that the electrical safety standards are met during any period that the residential property is...

Can you sell your property? How forward planning can smooth the house-buying process.

Jonathan Williams
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Most of us live happily in our houses for years and we assume we own our home and the land on which it sits. In almost all cases this is correct, and the vast majority of property transactions go smoothly. However, there are cases when things don’t...

Update on residential evictions - Stay on eviction proceedings extended

Sarah Whitehurst
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The Government has announced they are extending the stay on eviction proceedings for social or private rental accommodation by a further two months (to 23 August 2020), bringing the moratorium on evictions to a total of five months.  The Government has...

New Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill 2020

Catherine Rickett
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A review of new legislation by Catherine Rickett and Alex Forster . On Wednesday 20 May the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy introduced the new Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill 2020, the measures are intended  to...

Coronavirus and your seasonal workers - new self-isolation rules

Phil Cookson
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In this Q&A (published 05 June 2020) we look at the new self-isolation rules for seasonal workers travelling to farms in England. For farms with seasonal workers due to arrive from abroad on or after 8 June 2020, there is an extremely useful...

One house or two? - Multiple Dwellings Relief

Ben Taylor
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Multiple Dwellings Relief (MDR) is an important relief for Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT), where a purchaser acquires more than one dwelling as part of a transaction, or where there is a single dwelling purchase, but it is linked to at least one other...

The Furlough Scheme - Part Two

Desley Sherwin
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On Friday 29 May 2020, the Chancellor released details of how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will change in the coming months to try to get people back to work as lockdown restrictions are starting to be lifted.  Everyone knew that the proposal...

Electric scooters - is the law ready for the transport revolution?

Robert Dempsey
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The Government has announced the use of electric scooters could be trialled on our streets as early as June 2020. This was something that was always in the offing, but the fact this was announced as part of a Coronavirus update, and trials are taking placer...

Test and Trace - how it might impact employers and employees

Desley Sherwin
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At 9am on 28 May 2020, the Government launched the NHS Test and Trace Service in England: those who have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for Covid-19 “must” isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms, to avoid...

Tenant Fees Act applies to all existing Private Sector Tenancies from 1 June 2020

Bukola Obadun-Craigs
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It was certainly a welcomed step taken by Government to reopen the housing market on 13 May 2020. The Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick set out guidance for those wishing to move home safely in line with social distancing advice. It was reported that 450,000...

Highways Claims: An update following COVID19

Cristina Parla
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In my previous blog Highways Claims: The essentials , I discussed  the process of making a personal injury claim against a local authority as a result of an accident caused by a defect on the highway. Since then, a recent press release from the RAC...

Key changes to probate applications during the Coronavirus pandemic

Naomi Message
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Whilst the requirement for execution of wills remains archaic and unchanged, the pandemic has led to various modernisations of the process surrounding the application for Grants of Probate (along with Grants of Letters of Administration and Grants of Letters...

The mental well-being of employees during the pandemic

Robert Dempsey
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With Mental Health Awareness Week falling in the midst of the ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic, it is appropriate consideration is given to  the  mental well-being of employees working through the pandemic, and the responsibilities of employers. If an...

Post-lockdown employment considerations

Desley Sherwin
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It is anticipated that the dire economic consequences of the current lockdown will require there to be a partial easing of the lockdown restrictions in the coming days and weeks, allowing some additional businesses to re-open in a phased manner, and allowing...

Coronavirus and the self-employed contractor

Desley Sherwin
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In the early days after the launch of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which introduced the concept of furloughing for employees, the self-employed were demanding: “What about us, we need help too!” The self-employed/contractors have been...

Should those suffering with coronavirus be allowed to make oral wills during the pandemic?

Naomi Message
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In these strange and unprecedented circumstances Ministers have been urged to use their emergency powers to relax the laws governing the execution of wills during the coronavirus pandemic.  Some campaigners argue those suffering from coronavirus should...

Coronavirus and your new starters - guidance for farm businesses

Phil Cookson
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In this article we look at best practice for farmer and grower employers taking on new workers for picking and packing fruit and field crops. With scores of workers due to arrive on farms over the next few weeks, the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic...

Guidance for trustees facing challenging times

Julia Seary
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The Charity Commission has published guidance for trustees, especially those acting for smaller charities, who may need help facing difficult situations or decisions.  We have summarised the Charity Commission’s key considerations and some...

Furlough/Parental leave and pay

Desley Sherwin
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The Government has issued guidance to confirm that workers who have been furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme but who are eligible for and wish to take paid parental or adoption leave on or after 25 April 2020 will not be penalised by...

Coronavirus and agri-supply contracts - guidance for farmers and growers

Julie Robinson
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In this article we give some pointers to producers whose scheduled deliveries have been cancelled or curtailed by their customers due to the coronavirus crisis. For the most part, producers’ relationships with their suppliers and customers are long...

Further reliefs for commercial tenants

Sarah Whitehurst
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Within the last 24 hours the Government has announced further measures to assist commercial tenants during the coronavirus pandemic.  The Government has already placed a moratorium on a landlord’s ability to forfeit a commercial lease for...

Covid-19 and commercial contracts: Material Adverse Change

Julia Seary
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In some types of contracts/agreements it is common to see a Material Adverse Change or MAC clause to deal with one party’s significant and damaging changes in commercial circumstances.  This is particularly the case in financing documentation...

Coronavirus increases the risk of fraud and cybercrime

Julia Seary
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The Charity Commission has today warned charities that fraudsters are exploiting the spread of coronavirus in order to carry out fraud and cybercrime, with Police reporting an increase in coronavirus related scams.  There are a number of ways in which...

Statutory Sick Pay and (1) Furlough Leave (2) Shielding

Desley Sherwin
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The Government has provided two further areas of clarification to Covid-19 related interaction with Statutory Sick Pay. Firstly , HMRC has updated its statutory payments manual to provide that employees do not qualify for Statutory Sick Pay if: they...

Holiday Pay and Furlough Leave

Desley Sherwin
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Over the weekend the Government has published the latest in a series of updated guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.  This answers outstanding queries relating to the interaction between  Holiday Pay and Furlough Leave. In a...

Post-Brexit farm support: can the start of the agricultural transition period be postponed?

Julie Robinson
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Ultimately any decision to delay the introduction of the post-Brexit agricultural transition period is a political one. In this blog we explore the legislative processes – what would need to happen before the start date of the new regime can be...

Social Media, Electronic Communications and Family Proceedings

John Boon
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The recent outbreak of Covid-19 and the restrictions which have been put in place by the Government mean that a large number of us are spending more time on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and using electronic forms of...

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Extended

Desley Sherwin
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The Chancellor has this afternoon announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be extended from its initial 3 month period from 1 March 2020 – 31 May 2020 by a further 1 month, i.e. to the end of June 2020. The announcement will come as a...

Covid-19 and commercial contracts: Traders selling to consumers

Julia Seary
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The Covid-19 pandemic is likely to lead to a wave of disputes as to which party bears the risks of non-performance.  There are some key principles which commercial parties should consider in order to assess the likely outcome of any dispute before...

Covid-19 and commercial contracts: Supplying goods

Julia Seary
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The Covid-19 pandemic is likely to lead to a wave of disputes as to which party bears the risks of non-performance.  There are some key principles which commercial parties should consider in order to assess the likely outcome of any dispute before...