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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.

Get in touch with our wills and probate solicitors

For further information about wills and probate, get in touch with our solicitors in AlconburyPeterboroughSpaldingNottingham or Birmingham

 

What you need to know about the Brexit food and drink labelling changes

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The way food and drink producers, manufacturers, retailers and suppliers label food is changing as of January 1 2021, and you need to be ready. When the UK exited the European Union on 31 January 2020, the transition period was set in motion which ends on...

EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement - Short term work in the UK

Desley Sherwin
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With the Brexit/Withdrawal Agreement coming into effect, freedom of movement between the EU and UK has ended. EU, EEA and Swiss citizens entering the UK for work purposes may need to apply for a visa through the UK’s points-based immigration system....

Brexit and Seasonal Agricultural Workers Q&A

Desley Sherwin
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This article aims to answer some questions about UK farm employers’ access to seasonal workers under the Government’s extended Seasonal Workers Pilot. The end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020 marks the end of freedom of...

What's on the horizon in leasehold reform?

Bukola Obadun-Craigs
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The Government has confirmed that legislation will be bought forward allowing leaseholders to extend their leases by a maximum of 990 years at zero ground rent, turning away from the 50-year lease extension with ground for leasehold houses and a 90-year...

The Impact of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement for UK Businesses and Trade

Julia Seary
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Following ten rounds of intense negotiations in the run up to Christmas, the EU-UK Trade and Co-operation Agreement (the TCA ) came into provisional effect at 11pm on 31 December 2020 when the European (Future Relationship) Act 2020 (the 2020 Act ) came...

EU-UK TCA - what does it mean for Nitrate Vulnerable Zones?

Julie Robinson
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This brief article considers environmental regulations and, taking Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZs) as an example, whether UK authorities are likely to deregulate and relax requirements following the end of the transition period and the provisional coming...

Brexit and cross-compliance

Julie Robinson
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Does Brexit mean an end to Cross-Compliance? That is the Government’s plan for England. Cross compliance is a core feature of the CAP direct payments regime and rural development agri-environment schemes. Leaving the EU means that the UK is no...

EU-UK TCA - what does it mean for the EU's Precautionary Principle?

Julie Robinson
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The precautionary principle generally puts a check on decision-making when scientific evidence about an environmental hazard is uncertain and the risks are potentially high, while critics would argue that it can hold back innovation and progress. It is a...

EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement - Trade in agricultural products Q&A

Julie Robinson
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This article aims to answer some questions following the Trade and Cooperation Agreement concluded between the UK and the EU and provisionally in force from 1 January 2021. Why can’t my seed potatoes be sold into the EU from 1 January 2021? This...

EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement - Organics Q&A

Julie Robinson
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This brief article aims to answer some questions about the certification, labelling and trading of organic food products following the provisional coming into force of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) on 1 January 2021. Can organic products...

EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement - Protected Geographical Indications

Julie Robinson
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This brief article aims to answer some questions about the use of Protected Geographical Indications following the provisional coming into force of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) on 1 January 2021. From 1 January 2021 the names of UK...

EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement and The Groceries Code

Julie Robinson
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Will the remit of the Groceries Code Adjudicator change as a result of the EU/UK trade deal? Nothing in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement impacts directly on the Groceries Supply Code of Practice or the remit of the Groceries Code Adjudicator. The...

A New Tax on Wealth

Ben Taylor
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A new tax on wealth is being considered and a report by The Wealth Tax Commission has been released this month making recommendations to the Government.  To find out how such changes could affect you as a taxpayer and whether you should review your...

Personal injury claims in winter

Cristina Parla
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Our Personal Injury team recently took part in #SolicitorChat, a conversation on Twitter where solicitors answer questions on a set topic.  A recent one covered personal injury claims in winter, and we thought our answers would provide a useful...

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Rebecca Ironmonger
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A medium sized food processing factory which produces products such as donor kebabs for the national and international market was raided by Trading Standards and the National Food Crime Unit at the Food Standards Agency (“FSA”) and subsequently...

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Amy Forman
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Cyclists: The ‘menaces’ that provoke fury amongst road users like no others. Cognitive Scientist Tom Stafford argues that motorists hate cyclists because they believe that they disrupt the ‘moral order’ of the road. Contrary to...

Notice periods: update to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Shola Khan
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The Government have today (13 November 2020) updated the extended Coronavirus Job retention Scheme (CJRS) in relation to notice pay. As you may be aware, the CJRS has been extended to 31 March 2021 with a review of the scheme in January 2021. Under the...

Chancellor looking to "rebuild funds" with new tax regime

Ben Taylor
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This week, the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has released a report on Capital Gains Tax (CGT). These follow a request by Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, to “identify opportunities relating to administrative and technical issues as well...

Furlough Guidance clarified

Desley Sherwin
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Less than 48 hours after it was issued, the latest furlough scheme guidance has been revised to correct some errors: 1. In relation to the expiry of fixed term contracts and rehiring, the correct date is now confirmed as 23 September 2020 (not 23 October...

New Charity Commission user-friendly guides for trustees

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The Commission has published a range of user-friendly guides for trustees. Launched in Trustees’ Week 2020, the five x 5-minute guides cover a ‘core syllabus’ of basic information that should help trustees run their charities effectively....

Extension of Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Desley Sherwin
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Just as we waved a fond farewell to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, so it has returned! The Chancellor has announced this afternoon that the Scheme will remain open until 31 March 2021. All we know at the moment is that for claim periods running to...

Data protection and security

Julia Seary
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Businesses are reminded to ensure their systems and processes are as secure as possible following the Information Commissioner's latest fines against two organisations for data breaches. In October, British Airways was fined £20 million for ...

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Victoria Stevenson
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Despite the horrors of the Pandemic it seems children and their parents may still be blowing blow the cobwebs off their costumes this Halloween ready to threaten unimaginable horrors if not rewarded with chocolate and sweets, so it is time to perhaps think...

New Debt Letter Rules - What Does Your Business Need to Do?

Catherine Rickett
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The way your business must deal with individual debtors is changing. On 7 October 2020, the Treasury announced new rules for debt letters that are less intimidating and provide more support for people in debt. The law is expected to be officially changed in...

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)...

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...

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...