What is a Basic or Mirror Will?
A Basic Will is the simplest type of Will. It would make provision that everything would be passed to your spouse and or children if your spouse had already died. A Mirror Will reflects the wishes of both spouses and the clauses are the same in both Wills.
What are the main clauses in the Will?
An Executor is someone who is named in the Will as responsible for dealing with the estate and carrying out the instructions in the Will. You can only appoint an Executor in a Will. Without a Will, an application would have to be made to the court for an “Administrator” to be appointed. This could lead to delays and someone you don’t know or trust could be appointed. The role can be demanding and take time to complete. It is a responsible role and trusted people should be chosen. These could be family members or friends.
If you have children under the age of 18, it is very important to include a guardianship clause in your Will. A guardianship clause will give you peace of mind that you have made appropriate arrangements for your children and who will be taking care of them. Without naming guardians in your Will, the court would consider all the circumstances and decide who would look after your children. It is also a good idea to consider naming substitute guardians in your Will in case your first choice of guardians cannot act for you (for whatever reasons).
Gifts to people or charities
Without a valid Will you cannot bequeath any property or monetary gifts to anyone. Your estate would be divided in accordance with the intestacy rules (see previous page). By making a Will you can bequeath items or money to whoever you want including charities and organisations. Your chosen Executors would ensure the gifts are distributed according to your wishes. Specific gift clauses can also minimise family disputes over items such as jewellery, art or stamps.
What are the disadvantages of making a Basic Will?
Avoidance of delays on death
You may wish to reduce delays in selling or transferring your assets after you die. Obtaining a grant of probate and distributing assets after death usually takes 3-6 months but may take longer. Without a valid Will, your family would need to apply to the court to be appointed as administrators of your estate.
Leaving everything to each other or to children does not take into account life's twists and turn such as divorce or remarriage. By adding a trust into the will you can make sure that at least your “share” of such assets can only ever go to the people you have chosen.
For Trust Wills see here.
Long-term care provision
Just giving your assets outright to family in the hope of avoiding the costs of long-term care is not effective. We do not advise gifts of property or assets for the purposes of avoiding care fees. Should a surviving spouse require care then the whole estate including the family home will be assessed and used to pay for it.
Loss of means tested benefits
If the recipient of your gift is in receipt of state benefits then these benefits could be lost. Discretionary trusts should be considered to protect vulnerable persons with certain medical conditions.
What do I do next?
If you don't have a Will at the moment and you would like to discuss the implications, please call us to arrange an appointment and we visit you at home to discuss your situation.