At Hunt Solicitors we encourage people across Northern Ireland to think about making their Wills and not leaving it too late. The Law of Intestacy in Northern Ireland is quite inflexible and has not been updated in many years. This can lead unfortunate and upsetting circumstances should a loved one pass without a Will and their affairs are awarded to someone else.
In light of this we have gathered together some of the most common questions we get asked by clients when writing their Wills and have outlined our responses below.
These Frequently Asked Questions should provide you with some guidance on making your own Will, however, should you have any further questions in relation to your own Will, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Ashling McKeown from our Wills & Probate department.
Q. I don’t have enough money to leave to anyone so why should I make a Will?
A. Making a Will is about much more than just ‘who gets what’. Having a professionally drafted Will takes into account other, more personal wishes. For example you can nominate the people who you would wish to have guardianship of your children, you can select the people you want to manage your Estate on your death and you can let your family know any funeral wishes you have.
Q. How will my marriage/divorce affect my Will?
A. Entering into a marriage/civil partnership will automatically revoke any previous Wills unless it is drafted to take this into account. However if you have been divorced your Will is not automatically revoked. The divorce will cancel any gift which may have been made to your previous partner and remove them as your Executor however all other clauses or wishes will stay in place. You should always review a Will after divorce or marriage with a professional advisor to see what effect it has.
Q. I made my Will years ago surely it’s still valid?
A. Although your Will may be valid any number of things may have changed which could make dealing with your Estate more costly or time consuming. For example you may have made your Will when your children were minors leaving any entitlement to them on a Trust which is no longer required. You may also have left gifts to people with whom you are no longer in contact. Wills should be reviewed every few years and certainly updated to take into account any change in circumstances to ensure that they reflect your wishes at the present time.
Q. Should my Will try to cover every eventuality?
A. It can be tempting to try and make your Will cover a wide range of hypothetical scenarios, however you shouldn’t attempt to fit every possibility in to it. Your Will should be updated every few years. However particular attention should be given to your Will following certain life events such as marriage, divorce, death of a beneficiary, death of an Executor or a change in your assets. However a Will should reflect your circumstances now and not what they could be in the future.
Q. I have just had another child, should I update my Will?
A. Not necessarily. Depending on your age and circumstances your Will may have been drafted to include future children without naming them. However keeping your Will updated following important life events such as these is always recommended to ensure your wishes are up to date. We would always recommend a review of your Will after a new addition even if it means it doesn’t need changed it’s always worth having it reviewed for peace of mind.
Q. What happens if I die and don’t have a Will?
A. If you die without a Will the law decides how your property is divided. This is known as dying ‘Intestate’. Dying without a Will takes away your control to decide who inherits from your Estate. It could be that someone who you wouldn’t want to inherit could take all or part of your Estate. It can also make the administration process more costly and take more time to be finalised. Leaving a valid Will is the only way to make your wishes on death known.
These are just a small number of queries we are asked on a regular basis and we would always advise that having a professionally drafted Will is the best course of action.
Contact us today to arrange an initial consultation where we can discuss your personal circumstances and draft a Will that suits your needs.
This article was written by Ashling Gray
Should you wish to discuss Enduring Powers of Attorney in more detail or indeed any Wills & Estate Planning matter, please contact Ashling Gray from our Wills & Estate Planning team on 028 90 428 600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Hunt Solicitors offer a free, no-obligation first consultation and can be found at 77 High Street, Holywood, County Down, BT18 9AQ.