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A guide to making a will when you look after someone

Although it can be a difficult and emotional topic, having honest conversations about what you and the person you care want to happen after you both pass away can provide a greater peace of mind and a sense of relief for everyone.

By writing your will, or encouraging the person you care for to write theirs, you are ensuring your wishes will be fulfilled, your assets will go to the right people and that your loved ones are not having to take on any unnecessary burdens, pay more tax than they need to or end up in arguments about what you may or may not have intended.

We’ve teamed up with Mogers Drewett, a bath-based solicitors to answer your queries about making a will.

What is a will?

A will, sometimes known as a last will and testament, is a document that controls what happens to someone’s estate after their death. This means anything of value like money, properties and possessions.

It’s an important step for everyone to take, regardless of your age and financial circumstances. Having a will in place enables you to have your voice heard, your wishes met and protect your loved ones. If you look after someone it is especially worthwhile, to ensure those who depend upon you are provided for.

What types of wills are available and what are the differences?

It can be a little daunting when you start looking into drafting your will as there are lots of types of wills available, but wills broadly fall into two categories - simple and estate planning.

Simple wills

Simple wills are just that – a simplified will, they are common for people with simple financial situations, where you do not have substantial assets.

By writing a simple will, you can state the person(s) that will inherit your assets after you die and where you can name a guardian for children.

Simple wills do not protect assets from UK inheritance taxes or from third party claims (for example from former spouses, civil partners or the state). Except in the case of provision for minor children, simple wills will not contain continuing trusts.

Estate planning wills

Estate planning wills are for more complex financial situations like those who have divorced, re-married, have second families, are business owners or have properties abroad. They contain more complex provisions, which are intended to protect assets, and they will usually contain provisions that will transfer some or all assets into a trust. They are often used:

  • When someone wishes to make continuing provisions for a surviving spouse/civil partner/partner but retain control over who will inherit assets on their eventual death (for example, in a second marriage, where both partners want to ensure that their assets eventually pass to their respective children).
  • When there is concern about the ability of a beneficiary to properly manage assets going forward.
  • To protect assets from claims being brought by a third party (for example, where the intended beneficiary is going through a divorce, potential bankruptcy or where an inheritance may affect someone’s entitlement to state benefits).

Don’t put it off! Making a will is often not as complicated as people think.
Your will is an important opportunity to make sure your wishes take place. Leaving your money and possessions to be divided under the intestacy rules rarely produces the results you would choose yourself.

Mogers Drewett’s key piece of advice for someone considering writing a will

How long does writing a will take?

This depends on your personal circumstances, but making a will is easier than most people think.

For some it will be a straightforward document listing what you own, along with instructions on who receives them. For others it will be more involved, as there may be more elements to consider such as substantial assets and complex financial situations.

What costs are involved?

Again, this will depend on your personal circumstances, but we recommend talking to a solicitor to help you find the most appropriate will for you and the associated costs with that type.

Free Wills Month takes place during March and October and can be a good opportunity for people aged 55 and over to have a simple will written or updated for free or in exchange for a donation to charity.

Our network partner and national charity, Carers Trust have partnered with Farewill to offer a free will-writing service for carers living in England and Wales. You can write your will online for free, using the voucher code Carers22.

What happens when someone dies and has not made a will?

If someone dies without making a will, then the rules of intestacy will apply. This means that the law will decide who will inherit your assets. Whilst this may work in some circumstances, for the majority it will not (for example couples who are not married or in a civil partnership, or those with young children).

A lengthy administrative process, disputes between family members and financial hardship can be some of the repercussions for families when a loved one dies without making a will.

It is important to make sure you choose who looks after your affairs when you can’t, so it is useful to also consider putting a Power of Attorney in place. A Power of Attorney is a legal document that enables you to appoint someone to manage and make decisions about your affairs in the event that you are unable to do so.

Mogers Drewett

Need to talk? Call our Freephone Support Line on 0800 0388 885 (Mon-Fri, 9am – 1pm)