Why you should have a Will
For many people, a Will is the most important legal document they will make in their lifetime. It sets out your instructions for what should happen to your personal estate - money, property, investments, possessions and so on - upon your death. It is the best way to ensure that the chosen people that you care about inherit in the exact way that you want them to.
If you do not have a Will, there is no guarantee that your wishes will be respected and followed after you die. Instead, your estate will be distributed in line with the Scots law rules of intestacy, which limit inheritance to certain family members, and might not bear any relation to what you would like to happen on your death.
The absence of a suitable Will can lead to inheritance disputes which can be costly both financially and emotionally for all those involved. Failing to prepare an appropriate Will can also mean that your estate is liable to Inheritance Tax in a way that might have been avoided with careful planning.
To make sure your estate can be dealt with in line with your wishes, it is vital to have a Will in place.
If you have found yourself in a situation where there is no Will or a poorly drawn up Wills is causing administrative challenges or inheritance disputes, we can help. Learn more at our What to Do When Someone Dies page.
What to consider when making your Will
There are many factors to consider when preparing your Will. These include but are not limited to;
- Do you know how much your estate is worth, and what are your main priorities? What is your attitude to tax planning?
- Who are the people you'd trust to be executors and trustees, dealing with the administration of your estate?
- Who are the people you'd like to benefit from your estate? How should it be divided?
- Are there any beneficiaries who might need help looking after their inheritance?
- Are there any factors in your family that might impact on your succession planning? For example, do you have children from a different relationship? Have any children predeceased?
- Are there any particular assets that require special attention? For example, is there a family business, or property used by other family members?
- Should you appoint a legal guardian(s) for children under the age of 16?
- Are there other assets like pensions or life policies that should be given attention at this point?
- Would you like to include specific funeral arrangements?
The role of our team is to work with you to get an understanding of your situation and objectives, and advise you on an appropriate succession planning approach, whilst making sure what is included is bespoke to you and your needs.
We can also recommend other steps that you might take as part of your estate planning, such as preparing a Power of Attorney, or placing life policies in trust. Find out more about options regarding Power of Attorney at our dedicated page.
Benefits we bring to you
Our experienced Private Client team, based in Edinburgh and Glasgow, can support you with preparing an appropriate Will to ensure that your loved ones benefit after you pass away. Whether your estate is simple or complex, we can offer clear, practical advice and help you avoid any issues that may arise.
We understand that no one's circumstances are the same, which is why we provide a bespoke Will-writing service tailored to your personal needs. Our approachable, professional Will experts, will guide you through the process, making you aware of the many options available to you.
How we can help you:
- Face-to-face or online meetings with one of our Will specialists, to provide full advice and take your instructions. That will include tax planning advice where appropriate, including on how to mitigate Inheritance Tax. For more details, please see our dedicated Tax page.
- The preparation and drafting of your Will and associated documents, and a clear, practical explanation of how it fits with your personal situation and objectives.
- Meeting with you to sign the documents and arranging storage at Morton Fraser.
- Appointments to review your Will as needed in light of changing life circumstances.
Our approach to fees
No individual or family's circumstances are quite alike, and there is no 'one size fits all' approach to estate planning. At Morton Fraser, we have a team that can handle straightforward Wills and Powers of Attorney in an efficient and cost-effective manner, as well as the expertise to provide complex planning advice to help those with particular objectives in relation to Inheritance Tax, protecting certain beneficiaries or assets, or succession planning for businesses.
In many cases, you might not know quite where you fit into that, or what advice you require. It is our job to work with you to get a full understanding of your family and personal situation, learn about your objectives, and develop a plan to meet them.
For new clients, we do that at an initial meeting of up to one hour with one of our Partners or senior Solicitors. We would typically issue a questionnaire in advance so that basic information is already in hand, and the meeting can be focused on discussing your priorities and taking your instructions. Our fixed fee for that meeting is £350 plus VAT. If we are subsequently instructed to prepare Wills and/or Powers of Attorney, the fee for that initial meeting will be taken into account as part of our overall quote.