Leaving a Will means you can be sure that everything would be dealt with in the way you would wish following your death. It's a great feeling to know that you won't be leaving your loved ones with a mess to sort out.

If you don't make a Will, the Intestacy Rules will govern how your estate is divided up when you die. They determine which of your relatives receives how much and can lead to some nasty surprises.
The Intestacy Rules do not provide at all for your friends or even for a partner who you may have lived with for years - they will inherit nothing. Under the Intestacy Rules, your step-children are not counted as your children and will inherit nothing - even if their other parents have already died. It is only by making a Will that you can specify who will get what amount, eg if one of your children needs more money than the other, and when children inherit. Coming into a large amount of money whilst still a teenager may not be the best for them, but under Intestacy Rules they will inherit at eighteen years of age regardless of their financial maturity.

You can also appoint Guardians in your Will so that your children will be looked after by someone who cares for them. Without a will, family members may have to go to court to get permission to look after them. While this is sorted out, your children may go into care temporarily.

Intestacy Rules don't allow you to leave gifts to charity. But by making a Will you can specify a set amount or a percentage of your estate for charity – it's a great way to say "thank you" for the work they do and helps save inheritance tax.
The Intestacy Rules do not provide at all for your friends or even for a partner who you may have lived with for years - they will inherit nothing. Under the Intestacy Rules, your step-children are not counted as your children and will inherit nothing - even if their other parents have already died. It is only by making a Will that you can specify who will get what amount, eg if one of your children needs more money than the other, and when children inherit. Coming into a large amount of money whilst still a teenager may not be the best for them, but under Intestacy Rules they will inherit at eighteen years of age regardless of their financial maturity.

You can also appoint Guardians in your Will so that your children will be looked after by someone who cares for them. Without a will, family members may have to go to court to get permission to look after them. While this is sorted out, your children may go into care temporarily.

Intestacy Rules don't allow you to leave gifts to charity. But by making a Will you can specify a set amount or a percentage of your estate for charity – it's a great way to say "thank you" for the work they do and helps save inheritance tax.

When you die, someone will need to deal with the practicalities. If you don't make a Will, you have no control over who this will be. It will usually be a family member. If you make a Will, you can choose who you would like to deal with things. You may prefer to appoint a professional, such as a solicitor or accountant - someone who will not be suffering the distress of bereavement.

Making a Will gives you enormous peace of mind. We will tailor-make your Will so that it reflects what you would really like to happen to your assets following your death. We have specialist advisers who can make sure your Will is tax-efficient and can explain the legal jargon in friendly, plain English terms.

Call us now or use the Contact Us form to arrange an appointment.

Joint Ownership of Property

There are two ways you can jointly own property with someone else, and the way you own property can have huge knock-on effects for what happens on your death. Do you know how you jointly own your property? If not, contact us, we can find out for you and advise on what this means for you. If you need to change how you own your property, we can easily do this for you.

Please also see our Frequently Asked Questions on Making a Will.

Below is a list of news articles related to Wills.

Daughters' Claim on Father's Estate Fails
Two adult daughters claimed an equitable interest in their late father's estate based on their understanding that their parents had organised their estates so the the estate of the surviving spouse would pass to the daughters in equal shares. Some time after becoming a widower, the father remarried and made a Will leaving his estate to his second wife.
Mother not making provision for her only child was reasonable under the circumstances
An adult daughter, who had been estranged from her mother, made a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 after her mother failed to leave anything to her daughter in her Will.

Survey reveals 73% of adults making a Will do not document their financial assets

A recent survey found that 73% of people have not properly documented financial assets such as pension plans and life insurance policies in their Wills. In addition 16% of those surveyed admitted it would be difficult for a spouse, partner or other family member to locate their financial assets.
Planning ahead in case you need care
Currently there are more than 700,000 people in the UK with dementia and that number will rise to one million by 2015. Whilst no one wants to consider a future with dementia, Lawson-West can help you plan ahead now.
Statutory Will made as Court of Protection queried Carer’s actions
The Court of Protection made a statutory Will for an elderly woman who lacked testamentary capacity as her last Will left her entire estate to a carer even though she had been removed from the carer and placed in a care home as the Court felt it was not in her best interests to remain with her carer.

Challenge to Will Failed


A son’s challenge to his late father’s Will failed as the Court found the father wanted to leave his estate to his new partner rather than his son.

Inheritance Tax Efficient Wills

We can help with Inheritance Tax-efficient Wills which help minimise inheritance tax liabilities We offer integrated advice so we can pick up points where you may not have known you had a problem, such as capital gains or inheritance tax issues.

We will ensure your Will reflects your individual circumstances and advise and offer solutions on any tax problems that come to light.

All Wills are drafted by qualified solicitors, not automatically generated by computer, and we work closely with Independent Financial Advisors and Accountants to provide holistic advice.

If you combine advice on your Will with lifetime planning, the savings you'll make in tax will leave more for your family after your death.

Living Wills - advance directives for medical treatments

A Living Will is an advance statement regarding medical treatment and can be used to outline medical treatments you wish or do not wish to have and appoint someone else to make medical treatment decisions on your behalf if you are too ill to make decisions for yourself. Not all aspects of a Living Will are legally enforceable, but they do provide guidance for people giving you medical care and are helpful to family members who may have to make decisions for you.

Anyone who is aged over 18 and has mental capacity can make a Living Will. However, you cannot refuse basic care, including warmth, cleanliness, shelter, pain relief and provision of food and water by mouth.

There are three elements to a Living Will although a will does not have to include all three:-
Request Directive
Requesting particular treatments, although doctors cannot be forced to give specific treatments and this aspect of a Living Will would be taken as guidance because it is not currently legally enforceable.
Refusal Directive
Refusing certain treatment, particularly if you do not wish to be kept alive beyond a certain point, especially where there may not be any prospect of recovery or if certain treatments conflict with religious beliefs.
Proxy Directive
Appointing someone to make treatment decisions on your behalf if you are too ill to make those decisions for yourself. This is not legally enforceable as it is doctors who will ultimately make decisions about your treatment. But it can provide guidance as to who would be best to consult, particularly if you are cohabiting because your partner may not be recognised as your next of kin so doctors may not fully consult them.
Creating a Living Will provides reassurance if you are worried about being kept alive by medical technology beyond a stage that you would choose or if you wish to be kept alive for long as possible.

Living Wills can also help family members who may have to make decisions on your behalf if you become too ill to make those decisions.

A Living Will can be changed and updated at any time. The British Medical Association recommend reviewing Living Wills every five years to check they still reflect your wishes.

Why you need to change your Will if your family circumstances change

Marriage and divorce invalidate any existing Wills so if you are getting married or going through a divorce, it is worth changing an existing Will or making a new Will to reflect your new circumstances.

If you begin to live with a new partner, but do not marry or enter a civil partnership, you need to consider making a Will as intestacy laws may not recognise your new partner and your estate will go to your next of kin. This particularly important if children are involved as it may create the situation where your own children inherit but children from your partner's previous relationship do not inherit even through the children grew up as siblings and were treated the same.

If you are divorced and your surviving spouse decides to re-marry in the future, you can protect the interests of your children to ensure that they still receive a share of your property by way of a Life Interest Trust.

If you leave no Will or an invalid Will, your assets will be divided according to the Intestacy Laws. This may mean that the partner you are separated from may inherit assets you would prefer to go to your current partner. Intestacy Laws make no allowance for step-children.

If you leave a valid Will which does not reflect your current circumstances, loved ones may challenge your Will in Court or dependant children who have not been provided for may make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. All this will cause unnecessary extra stress at a difficult time.

Tax and Retirement Planning

Inheritance Tax Advice
Many more people are faced with an inheritance tax bill on death than ever before. By combining an inheritance tax-efficient Will with lifetime planning, we may be able to save you much, much more. And whatever we save you from paying in tax means more for your family after your death.
Tax Planning Advice
Can you pick your way through the tax minefield? Do you really know the tax consequences of some of your ideas? Speak to one of our tax team and we can help to make sure you are paying the right amount of tax, and no more. We can guide you through the most tax-efficient ways of organising your affairs, and can put you in touch with specialist tax accountants or financial advisers if you need them.
Equity Release
Property prices have risen dramatically over recent years. Why not free up some of the equity in your home and enjoy the money without having to move house? We can advise on the different types of scheme available and introduce you to specialist financial advisers to guide you through your options.

A Lasting Power of Attorney

A legal document where you give another person or persons authority to make certain decisions on your behalf. Lasting Powers of Attorney were created as a Government response to concerns that some elderly people were being pressurised into giving powers of attorney to people who were acting in their interests rather than the interests of the elderly person.

There are two types of Lasting Powers of Attorney:

1. Property and Affairs
– this allows your attorney or attorneys to deal with your property and finances on your behalf.
2. Welfare
– this allows your attorney or attorneys to make health care decisions on your behalf if you lack mental capacity, eg because of Alzheimer's or similar debility, to do so yourself. If you wish you can outline what type of medical care you would prefer, for example would you prefer to be kept alive if you slipped into a coma or would you prefer to be allowed to die. Outlining your wishes in advance can save doctors and relatives making that decision without any guidance from you.

It is important that you choose your attorney or attorneys carefully. They need to be able to make decisions on your behalf that will affect you. So they need to be trustworthy and understand your needs to that they can make the right decisions on your behalf.

You can appoint more than one attorney and decide whether they should act jointly so they have to make decisions together or whether they should act jointly and severally so they can make both joint decisions or one can act for you, for example if an immediate decision is required on your healthcare but one attorney is travelling abroad and cannot be immediately contacted then the second attorney can be contacted instead.
You can also appoint a successor to your attorney, in case your original attorney cannot act for you. At Lawson-West, we will listen to your wishes and talk you through the implications of your decisions before we tailor-make a Lasting Power of Attorney for you.

Once your Lasting Power of Attorney has been completed and signed by you and your attorney, and it has been certified that you understand the Lasting Power of Attorney and have not been unduly pressured into making it, it will be registered with the Office of Public Guardian.

A Property and Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney can be used at any time after registration whether you have the capacity to act in financial matters or lack capacity.

A Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney can only be used if you lack capacity to make a health care decision.

Life Interest Wills

If you’ve remarried following divorce or bereavement, and have children from your former marriage, a Life Interest Will can protect your children’s inheritance at the same time as ensuring the financial security of your current spouse.

If you were to draw up a standard Will leaving everything to your new partner, your assets would become theirs when you died. Then, on their death, those assets are passed on to their beneficiaries – totally depriving your children from a former marriage of any inheritance.

However, a ‘Life Interest Will’ allows you to avoid this situation, keeping you in control of where your assets are distributed - for example the family home. If you own the home outright and want to leave it to your children but allow your current partner to live in it after you have died, you can give your partner a life interest in the property. This means that after you die they can live in the property until they die (or remarry if you prefer), at which time it passes to your beneficiaries.

The same applies if you jointly own a property with your new spouse. You can give your partner a ‘life interest’ in your share of the property – allowing them to live there after your death but ensuring it passes onto your children from your first marriage when your new partner dies or remarries.

Islamic Wills

Leaving a valid Will is the best way to ensure your property and possessions are distributed according to your wishes, when you die. Writing an Islamic Will is equally important to make sure your estate is passed on to family members according to the Islamic Sharia.

If you die without a Will, the laws of intestacy apply, which mean your assets are distributed according to English law, which is significantly different to the Islamic laws of inheritance.

Our specialist solicitors are able to draft Wills that comply with the Islamic Sharia and are also valid under English law.

The Islamic Sharia states that two thirds of your estate must be distributed to your family, in certain fixed shares e.g. a wife would receive 1/8, a son would receive 7/12, and a daughter would receive 7/24 of the estate. If you do not have such close relatives, more distant relatives will inherit instead.

However, the Islamic Sharia also allows you to decide who will inherit the remainder of your estate. You may choose to leave it to friends or family who are not entitled to anything under Sharia law, or to charity.

Protective Trust Wills

Parents of disabled children are often unsure of the best way to provide for their child's future which can lead to delays in making a Will.

However, if you don't make a Will or don’t put enough provision in a Will for a disabled child, there is a risk of a challenge later on by the child, or the local authority on the child's behalf. This can then impact on your other children, or other beneficiaries within the Will. Alternatively, if you leave assets directly to a disabled child a number of other difficulties arise including:

They may lose the right to means tested benefits if they inherit a lump sum;

The Court of Protection will need to appoint an individual to manage the financial affairs and make decisions on the child’s behalf if they lack the mental capacity to manage their own finances.

Setting up a Protective Trust
However, by setting up a Protective Trust, you can protect your child from the problems above. In a Protective Trust Will, money is placed in a discretionary trust rather than being left to the child directly. You then appoint trustees who decide how the money will be distributed between your beneficiaries (including the child in question). In addition, you can write a 'side letter' to the trustees to guide them on how you would like it administering.

This means that your child's entitlement to means tested benefits is not affected as they do not own the trust money until it is paid out to them. Neither does the estate have to involve the Court of Protection should there be any issues relating to mental capacity.

Under a Protective Trust Will, your child's interests and inheritance are protected by the trustees and you can be reassured that their inheritance will go towards ensuring that they have the best quality of life possible.
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