Wills and Estate Planning
If you do not already have a Will you may be familiar with some of the usual reasons people give for not having one…..
- I am still only young, I don’t want to think about dying
- I am too busy to think things through right now
- It will go to who I want it to go to anyway
- I really don’t have much to leave
- Accidents happen to other people
- It is too complicated…
..and so on.
If any of the above sounds familiar to you then please consider this –
- It takes longer, and costs more, to wind up an estate if there is no Will
- In Scotland a Will is not automatically revoked on marriage or separation
- Your family will have to go to Court to have an executor appointed
- A co-habitant does not have any automatic right to inherit
- On the death of a spouse or civil partner their estate does not all automatically pass to the surviving spouse or civil partner and in many cases the estate does not go to those you wish to benefit
- Children will take their inheritance at 16 – unless otherwise stated in a Will
- 7 out of 10 people do not make a Will – yet without a Will the law, not you, decides who gets your estate.
Making even a simple Will requires a fair amount of thought so set aside a time when you can think clearly and can decide who you want to benefit from your estate. You may want to talk things through with your spouse or partner if you have one or a close friend before speaking to us.
Our Private Client team members are trained to guide you through all the decisions you will have to make in the course of drawing up your Will and related Inheritance Tax and estate planning issues in a friendly and reassuring manner.
We will listen carefully to what you want to include in your Will and then explain to you the legal and financial implications of your intentions. Remember it is YOUR Will so it should reflect YOUR wishes and no one else’s. Don’t worry – there are no right or wrong bequests in a Will – it really is entirely up to you. When satisfied that you are clear and certain on all the relevant points we will draw up your Will and ensure that it is properly signed and witnessed so that your wishes will be implemented when the time comes.
Legal Rights – We will explain to you the concept of Legal Rights which is a provision under Scots Law for a spouse and children. These rights exist even where there is a Will. Legal Rights are an issue often now encountered with the increasing number of blended families. We will identify exactly what claims might be made and how you can best deal with them.
Protecting the family home – We will also discuss with you the options you have in connection with your home. The family home is often the most valuable asset you will acquire in your lifetime and you may well be worried about it possibly having to be sold to pay for your future residential care costs. You will no doubt want to protect it for your family. We can go some way to alleviate your fears by including a liferent trust in your Will. This provides for each party to allow the other to occupy their half share in the home for a specified period of time, usually until death or remarriage, but it could be terminated on the survivor going into residential care. This would mean that when the survivor required care their financial assessment would only include their own half share in the home and not the half share of the predeceasing person. The half share of the predeceasing person would at that stage belong outright to the family in terms of the Will of the predeceasing person thus protecting a half of the value of the family home for the family. This is a complex but vitally important area and one that we can guide you through so that you can maximise the benefit for your family.
Your Will is one of the most important legal documents you are ever likely to put your name to and it is therefore important to keep it in a safe place. If you wish us to do so we will hold your Will securely in our strongroom at no charge.
Finally, do remember that it is important to update your Will regularly if your circumstances change. Examples of this might be:
- Marriage, separation or divorce
- When you have been co-habiting with a long term partner
- The birth of children
- Inheritance of money
We can also advise you on Living Wills, sometimes also called Advance Directives. In a Living Will you state how you would wish to be treated if certain circumstances arise in relation to your health. It is a statement of your wishes, although not strictly legally enforceable, that is evidence of a your intentions in relation to the kind of treatment you may or may not wish to receive should you lose the capacity to make those decisions yourself in the future or the ability to communicate them. We will provide you with a copy of your signed Living Will so that you can give it to your doctor who will keep it with your medical records.
If you wish us to do so we will hold your Will in our Wills Safe at no charge.
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