Last Will and Testament – Do I need One, Can it be Reviewed?

Make a Last Will and Testament in Eastbourne and Polegate

At Eastbourne Law, we are equally at home helping writing simple Last Wills or highly sophisticated Wills for wealthy families or those in complicated situations.  Probably half of all families these days have children from different relationships and lack of skilled  will writing advice can create massive family problems. The vast majority of Eastbourne and Polegate couples have very simple Wills.  In many cases, this will lead to problems later on, which could have been avoided with a little extra thought in the first place.

What happens if there is no Last Will and Testament?

The Rules of Intestacy apply and they can have very unfortunate effects where couples are not legally married or civil registered. Make a Will – and urgently – if you are in this situation. And don’t ignore the fact that matters could become more complex.

Worse still, remarrying after a divorce or the death of a spouse can mean that your own children are totally by passed on your death, as your new partner may inherit everything.   They can then remarry, or just pass on your former assets to their own family and ignore yours. This happens every day but it need not.

Leaving your home or other assets in a trust allows your partner the lifetime right to benefit and (for example) live in your home but they don’t own it, so they can’t leave your part of the house to third parties you may never have met in your lifetime, or be hoodwinked out of it. With the approval of your carefully appointed Trustees though, they can move and be looked after for life.   This means that it will eventually benefit your children or perhaps grandchildren.

Eastbourne and Polegate Special Children’s Parents Need Special Last Will and Testaments.

A common Last Will questions: My son / daughter is on benefits or disabled or irresponsible.

We often advise on cases like this and we can add in special trust clauses to your Will to establish a Discretionary Trust. This means that a range of people can potentially benefit but that the Trustee can buy things for the intended beneficiary rather than give them the money which could result in a loss of benefits or a trip to the casino or pub if they have addiction issues.

How often should I review my Last Will and Testament?

  • If you have married since you made your Will, then you have probably cancelled it unless it was specially prepared.
  • If you are planning to divorce, then you should review your Will immediately.
  • If you have children under 18, have you appointed people to look after them if you (both) die?
  • Are the Guardians still appropriate?
  • If your children are specifically named in the Will, are they ALL named?
  • Are there any children who are not children of both of you, or have not been adopted?
  • Are your children better off than you? ( you may wish to consider putting your estate into trust so your children can benefit but don’t pay inheritance tax on your assets on their own deaths, thereby ensuring your assets pass through the family to your grandchildren without deduction of further inheritance tax on your children’s death).
  • Maybe you should consider leaving cash or items to your grandchildren.
  • Are your executors capable of the job?       Do they know where the Will is?
  • Is your Will actually safe? Many are lost or destroyed by people who don’t like the contents. A copy of your will is not normally enforceable.
  • Have you written an overseas Will, which may well have cancelled your UK one?
  • Has your financial or personal situation changed substantially since your Last Will was signed?
  • Was your Will actually signed properly? There are formal requirements and if they have not been complied with, the Last Will is not valid.

Free Last Will review.

Why not make an appointment for an informal review of your Last Will and Testament?   It should take less than 10 minutes and it will be free. You will need to visit us, or post a copy of the Last Will: we can’t arrange free home visits for Will reviews. The Review is not free if you have a wildly complicated Will!  Some Eastbourne or Polegate folk do have wildly complex Wills running into a hundred or more pages (we are not sure why!) so we do reserve the right not to offer the review free of charge – it could take hours!  We are very happy to write complex and tax planning Wills in our Willingdon office, but they will not get anywhere near 100 pages in length!

To make a Last Will, or to arrange a review, give us a ring or call in – if we can do it on the spot, we will. The number is 01323 (Eastbourne) 406 299 and we are located in Willingdon, on the main Polegate to Eastbourne Road, just after the Citroen Garage then turn left by the British Queen.   Our office is next to the Willingdon Branch of the Downlands Medical Centre.


Property Trust Wills.

These are a special variety of Will which create a Trust of (typically) half of the property on the first death.  They are useful where there are children on both sides, to ensure that everything is eventually divided between the two sides of the family in a fair way.   Too often the second person to die either doesn’t have a Will or has remarried and the family of the former partner get nothing at all.   If you are in this situation, please contact us.  These Wills are sometimes called asset protection wills as they protect part of the assets if the survivor goes bankrupt as well as the issues mentioned above.

Change A Will – Write A Codicil.

It is possible, but not always wise, to make a minor change to a Last Will by way of a “codicil.” A codicil is like a PS on a letter.   They can easily get lost, and it may well be that the original Will itself is no longer up to date due to changes in circumstance, in tax or in the law.

Make a Will in Eastbourne, Willingdon and Polegate call 01323 406 299.