If your looking for guidance then this is the place, With our expert knowledge in will writing we answer some of the biggest questions that you may have.

A Will makes it much easier for your family or friends to sort everything out when you die.  Without a Will the process can be more time consuming and stressful. If you don’t write a Will, everything you own will be shared out in a standard way defined by the law ,  which isn’t always the way you might want A Will can help reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax that might be payable on the value of the property and money you leave behind. Writing a Will is especially important if you have children or other family who depend on you financially, or if you want to leave something to people outside your immediate family.

Mirrored Wills – Mirrored wills are perfect for married couples, civil partnerships or unmarried couples that virtually have identical wishes.

Smart-Will, allows you to update your Will anytime your circumstances change. Below are the most common reasons you should update your Will.

Family changes – If a baby is born you might wish to add them as a beneficiary You may wish to change gifts for all sorts of reasons, including if beneficiaries die and others need to be added instead, or beneficiaries become richer compared to others, or fall out with you, or even marry people you do not approve of!

Upon marriage – If you marry or enter a civil partnership  your Will is automatically revoked and a new Will should be made. .

Divorce/Dissolution of Civil Partnership - In England and Wales, if you make a Will while married and then get divorced, your divorce can have a direct impact on the terms of your Will. While your Will does remain valid, your ex-spouse would no longer be able to benefit from it They would also no longer be permitted to act as an Executor or Trustee of your Estate This is because, for the Will, they are treated as deceased.

Separation – Review your Will as soon as possible as separation does not have the same effect as divorce/dissolution.

Financial changes – If you would like to give assets to beneficiaries that you have recently acquired, then it is advisable that you update your Will. This works both ways, if you have fallen on hard times and cannot give the specific assets written in your Will, then you need to update it also.

Inheritance tax (IHT) – If your estate has exceeded the IHT threshold (£325,000) since you last wrote your Will, then depending on what has changed, it might be a good idea to update your Will.

Moving abroad – If you plan on moving abroad and gain assets  in the country of residence, it may  be advisable to update your Will

By writing a will you, can precisely determine who will inherit your estate and let loved ones know you have considered their needs. Without a valid Will, your property will be distributed by law and not necessarily  how you would have wished. 

Writing a Will takes away added stress from the family after your death. You can choose who will benefit from your estate and who will manage your affairs after your death as executors.

If you have children under 18, you can nominate (subject to family court approval ) a guardian to  decide who they live with, which schools they should go to and generally manage their wellbeing if they are left without a surviving parent or other person with parental responsibility.  

If you have a preference for a burial or cremation, this can be included.

If you have substantial assets a Will gives the opportunity of reducing your Inheritance Tax liability.

In summary, it is probably true to say that every adult, who has the mental capacity to do so, should have a Will in place, and regularly review it once they have one.  

If you are married or in a civil partnership, both you and your spouse/civil partner should make Wills  either to ensure your spouse is the main beneficiary, and/to make sure your respective children from previous marriages/relationships receive the share of your estate you wish them to (and your spouse/civil partner avoids opprobrium, and potentially expensive legal dispute, from those children once you have gone  

If you are living with a partner and not married, it is often even more important that you have Wills and name each other as the main beneficiaries as if you die without a Will ‘intestate’ the rules of intestacy will provide your partner with nothing from your estate (except anything passing outside your Will/intestacy through your joint ownership).  

Before you set out to write your Will, make a list of the assets you own, and the people you would like to leave them too (beneficiaries). If you want to leave specific gifts to loved ones, think about what you could give and what might be special to someone. E.g. Maybe you would like to leave a wedding or engagement ring to your daughter, or a watch to a son that has been passed down from your father.  Anything left over after payment of debts, funeral expenses, gifts of specific assets or sums of cash and administration costs, is known as the ‘residuary estate’ or simply ‘residue’. Using Smart-Will, you can either select the most common scenario of your residuary estate being  inherited by your spouse/civil partner or partner, or if they have died before you, being shared equally  by your children, or you can name specific people and percentage shares.

Probate means the  legal process whereby a court (‘the Probate Registry, a part of the High Court, acting by one of its District Probate Registries), approves the legitimacy of a Will and issues a document called a ‘Grant of Probate’  which gives the executors named in the Will the legal authority to deal with the deceased person’s estate. The Executors, then with or without the assistance of solicitors, realise the assets of the estate, pay off its debts, and then distribute the net estate according to the instructions left in the Will. This is the ‘estate administration’.

Assets of the deceased person that pass by what is called ‘survivorship’ which are assets such as real property (ie houses, land or interests in land) or bank accounts owned in a form of joint ownership called ‘beneficial joint tenancy’ with another person, do not pass under the Will so are not part of the estate governed by the Grant of Probate.

Assets are anything a person owns of financial  value, such as real and personal property, bank accounts and investments such as National Savings products and stocks and shares . Executors are also responsible for making payments of the debts and finalising the deceased’s tax position If you have been appointed as executor to administer an estate, make sure you fully understand the responsibilities of carrying out the process of  estate administration as it can be a very complex task. Smart-will can find multiple fixed fee quotes if you would rather an expert take on the role.

Probate is not always necessary. If the deceased person owned bank accounts or property with another person, the surviving co-owner often will then own that property automatically. If a person dies leaving very few assets, such as personal belongings or household goods, these items can be distributed among the rightful beneficiaries without the supervision of the court. Sometimes probate is needed to:

Establish title to land, stocks and bonds, or large bank  savings and loan accounts that were held in the name of the deceased person only, to be able to realise these assets and transfer them or the proceeds of sale of them to  the rightful beneficiaries.

Collect debts owed to the deceased person.

Settle a dispute between people who claim they are entitled to assets of the deceased person.

Pursue legal claims on behalf of the deceased’s estate.

Resolve any disputes about the validity of the deceased person’s Will.

Help- If you need assistance with anything whilst using the app, tap the help tab then ‘talk to us’.

Testator - This is the person making the Will.

Executors - An ‘executor’ is a person or company  named in your Will that takes responsibility for  distributing your property or assets after your death. You must appoint at least one executor and It is important you appoint somebody who is reliable, trustworthy and is prepared to carry out their duties, sincetheir responsibility will include some tasks that may be overwhelming for some, , such as obtaining the grant of probate, completing the relevant tax forms, settling the relevant taxes, dealing with investments, or deceased’s businesses obtaining valuations and dealing with estate agents, solicitors and accountants and HM Revenue & Customs.

Smart-Will has a carefully vetted and selected network of probate administration experts in each region of the country and can provide fixed fee quotes, taking away any unnecessary stress and ensuring  your net estate will not be overly reduced by more expensive professional bodies or firms.

By appointing ‘Sanders Fisher Ltd’ as executor, we will find the best expert to suit your needs at no extra cost to you. If selected, we can also find other providers for more cost saving services that in some cases are unavoidable.

Alternatively, testators can appoint anyone they feel can take on the executor role correctly such as family members or friends.

If you feel you would like to appoint a family member or friend and a professional, then there is an option to select both. With this option, family members can deal with the more personal and sensitive side of the administration and the professional can ensure the  the legal and financial aspects are dealt with correctly. There is no extra cost to your Will for any of these options.

Guardians - Appointed guardians can take parental responsibility if both or all persons with parental responsibility are no longer alive. Appointing a guardian does not necessarily mean that they have to take on full responsibility to look after the child but they can make decisions about financial arrangements and the wellbeing of the children.

If you have children under the age of 16, it is wise to name a guardian to care for them in the event they are left without parents.

When choosing a guardian be sure to choose someone that can offer the best care for your children and  will to accept the responsibility.

Beneficiaries - Beneficiaries are people you have named to receive gifts of possessions, gifts of money and residue.

Our application is designed to be straightforward and to clearly state who is named as a beneficiary to make the whole process less time consuming and stress free. Users can either select the most common prepopulated questions or add specific beneficiaries and leave a percentage of the residue to whoever they wish to name.

Charity – With Smart-Will, you can also leave cash gifts to charity if you wish. It’s a good idea to find out the charity number and exact name of the charity before doing so in the application.

Gifts of possessions – If you would like to leave gifts such as your mother’s wedding ring or your father’s pocket watch beneficiaries, this can be carried out in the ‘Gifts of possessions’ section with just a few taps. Other gifts of possessions could include things like your car, stamp collection, war medals etc.

Gifts of money – Gifts of money can be gifted to beneficiaries in the ‘Gifts of money section’ simply name the beneficiary and state the amount you’d like to leave. Gift of residue – Gifts of residue are what is left from the estate after payments of tax, debts, funeral expenses, administration expenses and cash and item gifts to both beneficiaries and charities. Testators can easily select their spouse/partner, children, step children or name specific beneficiaries in the residue section.

Special request – In this section, testators can choose if they would like to be buried, cremated or have a natural burial, and provide for specific wishes eg if a certain piece of music should be played at the service or any other request. Testators can even leave video messages to their loved ones in this section that is stored securely on our back end system.  

Witnesses – Your Will needs to signed in the presence of two witnesses to ensure it’s legal validity. Without being witnessed whilst being signed, the Will is invalid meaning the Will will not be accepted for Probate and will have no legal effect.  Witnesses should be over 18 years of age and have mental capacity. Preferrably they will be easy to trace if needed to give evidence that the Will was corrected signed.

Important Witnesses can neither be beneficiaries in the will nor spouses or civil partner of beneficiaries. Using such a witness will invalidate any gift  in the Will to them or their spouse/civil partner but the rest of the Wllwould remain valid but possibly be much changed (or even partly rendered ineffective) if this invalidates a part of the gift of residue

Signing your will – Be sure to use a pen, preferably black for better copying.  Your witnesses should not leave the room until they have seen you sign and date the Will and have seen each other sign. Use your usual signature and make sure all witnesses complete the fields provided for them also. If you are physically frail make a mark as best you can as your signature.  

Identification – As soon as convenient and certainly within 12 months of creating your Will, we need you to have your identification certified by a solicitor. Any solicitor can be used and they will need to post to us  this certified copy of both (a) either a valid drivers’ licence, passport or national ID card, bus pass, shot-gun licence or other photo ID and (b) an utility bill, Council Tax bill, phone bill or bank statement showing your current address.

Will storage – Smart-Will  offers completely FREE storage for your Will. Testators can return their Will in the prepaid envelope provided and make sure their Will is kept completely safe. We have fire proof storage facilities so all you need to keep is the foiled storage certificate we send with the Will and let executors and witnesses know about the certificate. This way we can return the Will when needed easily and without any problems.

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