What is a Will? – A simple to follow guide

Whether it’s your first time writing a Will or your just curious about Will’s in general, if you are unsure about what a Will is you have come to the right place.

At Goughs we have helped thousands of people make a Will or even amend a Will if they need to. In this article we will explain what a Will and what happens if you don’t have one.

Topics to be answered in this article

What is a “Will”?

A Will is a legal document stating what you would like to be done with your assets after you die, as well as how you may want any affairs handled. It comes into effect after your death and means the courts have to follow the guidance you have stated into the document to distribute your assets to whoever you have chosen them to go to.A person who creates the Will is often referred to as the ‘testator’.

A Will must be:

  • In writing
  • Made voluntarily
  • For a testator who is 18 or over who is of sound mind
  • Signed by the testator in the presence of at least 2 witnesses
  • Also signed by those same witnesses

Without meeting these requirements, the Will would not be valid and this could have a huge impact as to how your estate is distributed. 

What happens if I don’t have a Will?

If no Will is in place when you die then statutory provisions will apply automatically and your estate will fall under the “intestacy” rules. These rules are strict and determine to whom your estate will be distributed. For example, if you are in a long-term relationship but unmarried and you die without a Will, your partner will not receive anything from your estate under the intestacy rules as they have no automatic right to inherit. Any children you have with that partner would inherit the estate in equal shares as they are the direct descendants and therefore heirs under the rules.

Your loved ones could be left with serious financial struggles if they do not automatically benefit under these rules. It is therefore important to make a Will to provide for those people who would otherwise not be provided for. The intestacy rules will also apply if the Will is deemed not legally valid so you must ensure that it is executed in the proper manner.

Additionally, there may be tax consequences that could have been managed or avoided completely if a Will had been made with future planning in mind. 

How Goughs can help

Goughs have a dedicated Private Client team who provide specialised advice in Wills.

We can help you create a Will that benefits your loved ones in whatever way you think fit whilst minimising the amount of tax payable on your estate in the most effective way. We encourage open and honest discussions so that you feel content that your affairs will be in order when you are no longer around. If you already have a Will, we can advise you whether it needs amending to reflect any recent life changes or any changes to those whom you wish to benefit. We also ensure that your Will is stored safely and securely until it is needed. 

Contact us at privateclient@goughs.co.uk to speak to one of our Wills specialists who would be happy to help.

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Author Bio

Harriet Pestille

I joined Goughs in September 2022 as a Trainee Solicitor.

Prior to Goughs, I worked as an Assistant Company Secretary for three years then completed the Graduate Diploma in Law before working as a Paralegal in both Education and Private Client whilst studying the Legal Practice Course on a part-time basis.

Having done my initial degree in History of Art, I switched to the legal sector because I enjoy providing solutions to problems and helping people in a practical way. Being a solicitor will enable me to do so in a professional capacity.

I am currently on my fourth seat in the Private Client department and I am excited to continue my professional and personal development with Goughs.

In my spare time I enjoy baking for friends and family, going to the gym and exploring the local area. My friendly cat Bruce also keeps me busy.

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