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Simon Hall Will Writing & Estate Planning Services

When it comes to Estate Planning in the UK it is shocking how many people do not have adequate protection in place for their family, home and business assets. In this post, Simon Hall shares some of the history of Estate Planning along with some staggering statistics.

Most people don’t want to talk about my subject matter: Wills, Trusts, Guardianship, Lasting Power of Attorney, and Probate. However, I approach these topics in a friendly but professional manner, usually over tea or coffee in the client’s lounge or at their kitchen table. In this post I outline some of the things you need to know when making a Will.

Let’s start with a brief history of Estate Planning in the UK. Of course Wills go back thousands of years; to around 600 BC, when the Ancient Greeks started making Wills. The idea behind them was to protect the families of soldiers invading distant lands. It was all about saying, “Just in case I don’t come back, can you do this?” Wills developed from word of mouth to parchment and were then adopted by the Roman Empire. Much of our UK law is still based on Roman law. In 1837, Queen Victoria passed the Wills Act, and 200 years later, we’re still using that same Act.

So what is a Will? In simple terms it is a formal document that describes how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. If you die without a valid Will, a court will appoint someone to administer your Estate and distribute your assets according to a formula set out in Estate and Family Law. This is called dying intestate. This puts everything at risk for your beneficiaries. Certainly you won’t be deciding who get’s what. There are currently about 9,000 unclaimed Estates in the UK, which will eventually become the property of the State after 30 years.

How many Brits don’t have a Will?

It depends who you ask. Some surveys indicate that up to 65 per cent of UK adults haven’t made a Will. According to the National Will Register the figure stands at 54%. This means that more than half of people in England and Wales haven’t planned ahead. This could be because they may feel they are too young or have nothing to leave. Whatever the reason more than half the population could die intestate. But what is even scarier is that for families with children under 18, six in 10 (59%) of parents do not have a Will or have one that is up to date.

If parents haven’t got a Will and they both die suddenly what happens to their children? Who will the guardians be? Sadly, orphaned children go straight into care. This could be for a day, a week, a month, or longer. You can stop that right now by simply having a Will in place stating who those guardians should be in your absence. It’s a scary thought, your kids losing their parents, but it would be even worse if you haven’t made appropriate provision just in case.

Similarly what happens if you are a business owner? Especially where you have partners. You can also include your business in your Will. If you’ve got a limited company, you should have a Shareholders’ Agreement written by your accountant stating what happens if you die. If you’re a partnership or sole trader, you should state in the Will what’s going to happen, particularly in partnerships, because if there’s nothing written, technically, the business asset freezes and everything gets closed down. It’s important for business people to plan ahead.

Estate Planning in the UK - Simon Hall Will Writing Services
Simon and Linda Hall of Simon Hall Will Writing Services who are specialists in Estate Planning in the UK. The company’s purpose is “To help individuals and families put their affairs in order so they feel positive that their future legacy is secure.”

Estate Planning in the UK

Estate Planning protects what you have and enables you to leave a legacy that can positively impact others for generations to come. In writing a Will you need to decide who your Executors are going to be, also known as Trustees. These people are likely to be your spouse, partner, children, or close friends who you trust. They are the ones who will take control of your Estate once you pass away and ensure your wishes are carried out legally.

There may be many beneficiaries to consider in your Will. For example you can leave one-off sums of money to individuals, organisations and charities. You can even index-link gifts to make up for inflation. You can also stipulate who will get your prized collections. I’ve had clients with gun collections under lock and key, jewellery, and even model train sets. If you don’t specify who gets what, the State will make a decision on where your possessions will go. What is known as your Residue (Property, bank accounts, and possessions) has to go to someone or in the case of an Unclaimed Estate it will eventually be absorbed by the Treasury.

Of course, Estate planning is not just about dying; it’s also about living and protecting your quality of life for as long as possible through Lasting Power of Attorney. At Simon Hall Will Writing Services we also cover Trusts, and Probate.

So what does a will cost? This is a question I am often asked. Our initial appointment, where we discuss the objectives and the choices you need to think about, costs nothing. Our advice is free, whether you go ahead or not. Thereafter the cost of Will for a straightforward estate is £264, including VAT. Or £450 for a mirrored Will for a couple. See What is the cost of a Will. More complex Estate Planning, like Trusts, involve additional costs. This is money well spent to protect your assets and ensure your wishes are respected.

We also provide an aftercare service and stay in contact. I tell people, “Get your Will sorted, then get on and live the rest of your life.” However generally speaking, not everyone values what we do, and we know that not everyone is our client. The clients we are looking for are people who value their life, care about others, and are willing to sit down for 60 minutes. For clients living in Devon we can do this in your home or we can work virtually as required. We try to be flexible and make things as easy as possible, especially for people with tight deadlines. For those who can’t meet during the daytime, we offer evening appointments, ideally via video call.

I love quotable quotes, and one that resonates with me is from Zig Ziglar who is sadly no longer with us: “You can have everything in life if you will just help enough people get what they want.” This quote is framed in my office and reflects our journey as a business over the past five years. Most people consider Estate Planning too late, so planning ahead is essential. Ultimately, what my associates and I do is all about giving our clients peace of mind.


Simon Hall

Simon Hall is your friendly, but professional Will Writer. He started Simon Hall Will Writing Services in 2019 to provide clients with peace of mind both now and in future. The company, which has recently won two awards, offers Wills, Trusts, Lasting Power of Attorney and Probate.