A guide to making your will
Your will is an important document which needs a little thought before it’s drafted. Our team know all the legalistic words, but we need you to help us by thinking things through in plain language. As a guide, we usually find ‘simple’ results in far clearer wills than unnecessarily complicated will instructions.
If you don’t get around to writing your will (and getting it signed and witnessed) then we say you died Intestate. Even if your nearest and dearest know who you wanted to benefit from your estate the law is very strict and prescriptive about who might be able to benefit and how much they may benefit by. This causes two problems. First, the money may not go where you want, and secondly, it's very unlikely to be tax efficient.
You can’t get much cheaper than a free will, but this service does have a few limitations: We can only take your instructions by telephone and the service is restricted to Unite members (and partners where a joint will is being produced).
During your telephone consultation, we may suggest to you that you need more than a basic will, for example, a complex family structure may dictate that a bespoke set of legal documents is called for. We’ll still collect all the information and pass it to our legal services provider for review. They, in turn, may contact you to discuss a bespoke solution.
Some of your assets, particularly pensions can sit outside your estate (and therefore not be covered by your will), in these instances we may suggest you speak to your employer or one of our trusted financial advisers to help you optimise this area.
Things to think about before speaking to us
Before speaking to a member of our team think about who you want to benefit from your estate. It’s easier to think in terms of percentages than in £pounds value as we rarely know what our net worth will be at death.
Sometimes we want to exclude people from our will who may expect to benefit. These tend to be family members who’ve got problems, who we’ve fallen out with or who we’ve just lost contact with. These ‘exclusions’ can complicate a will and leave it open to being challenged. If someone needs excluding we’ll need as much information about them and “why” as possible.
As you won’t be around to sort out your own affairs your will has to appoint an Executor(s) to do that for you. In many cases, the Executor is our life partner, adult child(ren) or both. However you do have the option of appointing our nominated legal services provider to act as your Executor, but be aware they will deduct their professional charges from your estate after you’ve gone.
Although not covered by the Unite members free basic will offer, you might also want to consider who will administer your affairs before death, but when you’re not able to do so yourself. Lasting Powers of Attorney can give trusted family members or friends the legal right to manage your financial affairs and to be your advocate for health matters when you're less able to manage these for yourself. A member of our team will be happy to explain how these work during your telephone consultation.
If you have dependent children you need to think about who will raise them if the worst happens? The people we nominate to assume parental responsibility when we’ve gone are Guardians. It’s best practice to make sure they’ve agreed to bring up your children before you write your will. We’d also encourage you to make adequate financial provision for them to be able to do so. A member of our team would be happy to explain how you might do this during your telephone consultation, so that if the worst happens your children don’t become subject to the decisions of a Court.
When we take your will instructions we’ll need to collect some detailed personal information, including details of all your assets (property(ies), savings, investments and pensions)) in the UK and abroad plus an overview of any life policies or death benefits your estate may benefit from.
If you have already have a foreign will it would be useful to for our team to understand the contents.
Remember when you write your will you can only leave items to people if you own the item yourself. If you jointly own an asset it may not be possible to leave that asset to anyone other than the co-owner. This is particularly relevant with property. Our team will be happy to discuss this with you.