Putting Your Affairs In Order

MoneyHelper

Money may not be the first thing on your mind if you’ve lost someone close to you – and that’s OK.

When you’re ready though, you’ll find there can be a lot to sort out. We’ve put together these clear and easy to understand guides to help you know what you need to do and how to go about doing it.

We’ve also got guides to help you prepare – including how to make a will, how to plan around inheritance tax and general guidance on getting your affairs in order.

Solicitors & Will Writing

Getting a solicitor to draw up your will is usually the most expensive way to do it. But knowing it’s been done properly can save a lot of stress for those you leave behind and give you peace of mind.

What’s the cost of making a will?

The answer varies depending on how complex your affairs are and if the firm is based in a city.

Here are some costs for a solicitor drawing up a will:

  • A simple will can cost between £144 and £240. So, shopping around and finding someone good for the lower price could save you almost £100.
  • A complex will can cost between £150 and £300. It might be more complex if you’ve been divorced and have children.
  • For a specialist will that involves trusts or oversea properties, or you want tax planning advice, expect to pay a minimum of £500 to £600.
  • A mirror will usually costs less than doing them individually. They’re worth considering if you and a spouse or partner want substantively the same (mirror) wills.

Make sure the cost you’re quoted includes VAT. The prices above include VAT.

Evidence from The Legal Services Board that suggests you can save a lot by shopping around for will services. When you’ve got one quote, contact a few others to see if they can beat it.

Shopping around might save you £100 for a simple will, and £150 for a more complex will. Try to find a service you believe will offer you a good quality service at a good price. (Figures above are from the Legal Service Board.)

Why use a solicitor?

Seriously consider using a solicitor to write your will if any of the following apply to you:

  • You have assets overseas, such as a holiday home.
  • You run a business and expect it to form a part of your estate.
  • You’ll have to pay Inheritance Tax – this is paid on estates valued at over £325,000 for an individual or up to £650,000 for a married couple.
  • Your family position is complicated – perhaps you have children with a previous partner, or you want to make special arrangements for children or a family member with a disability.

Benefits of using a solicitor include:

  • You’re protected if something goes wrong. Solicitors are regulated. If you have any problems, you can make a complaint to the solicitor’s firm. If the solicitor’s firm doesn’t deal with your complaint properly, you can go to the Legal Ombudsman.
  • You can be more confident there are no mistakes. Common problems with wills, such as using the wrong witnesses or forgetting to have it signed, could mean it’s not valid when you die. Using a solicitor should minimise the risk of things like this happening.
  • The complicated bits are done for you. The law surrounding inheritances,(including Inheritance Tax and trusts, is complicated. Solicitors will be familiar with the law and will be able to help you make the most effective choices.
  • Your will is stored safely. If a solicitor helps you write your will, they’ll usually store the original for you in a fireproof safe for free.

What to expect from your solicitor

Your solicitor should:

  • explain your options to help you make decisions about your will
  • give you advice that’s confidential and puts your best interests first
  • write and check your will according to your instructions.

Make sure they also give a clear indication of costs and how they’ll be calculated early on.

Solicitors as executors

You can choose to appoint the solicitor or law firm who draws up your will as your executor. This means they’ll handle the arrangements for your estate when you die.

Always ask how you’ll be charged – some solicitors will take a percentage of your estate to meet the bills. Others will charge for their time.

Using solicitors for free through charities

There are a number of charities that provide a will writing service for free. Be aware that the charity might expect or encourage you to make a donation. There are also several schemes that let you have a will drawn up by a solicitor free of charge or for a suggested donation.

The largest of these will writing schemes are:

  • Free Wills Month (in England and Wales). This runs twice a year, usually in March and October, in specific parts of England and Wales. Find out more on the Free Wills Month website.
  • Will Aid. This runs in November, with around 1,000 solicitors taking part. You usually have to book in advance, as spaces on the scheme are limited and it does get busy. There’s also a suggested minimum donation. Find out more on the Will Aid website.

Before you see a solicitor

Save time and money by thinking about what you want your will to include before your visit your solicitor.

If you don’t want to use a solicitor

You don’t have to use a solicitor if you don’t want to – there are other ways to get your will sorted. You could save some money by using a will writing service or if your will is going to be simple, you might be able to write it yourself.

Further MoneyHelper Advice

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