Last Will & Testament

- Ensuring what happens tomorrow is covered today

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Making a Will is not as difficult as you may think. It may seem like a daunting task, but Four Seasons Future Planning can help you make your Will - Every Step of the Way

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Why do I need a Will?

Family
 

We know that making the right Will is the best way to protect your assets and your loved ones. However, not everybody realises just how important a Will is.

“Surely my spouse will inherit everything after I die?”

This is, unfortunately, not always the case. Wills are highly important documents, and not having a Will means leaving the power in the hands of the law and the rules of intestacy when it comes to deciding what happens to your assets when you’re gone.

Having ‘a’ Will is certainly better than not having one at all, but the majority of people do not have the ‘right’ Will. Whilst a Standard Will may state your basic wishes, it cannot, and does not, offer any protection whatsoever to your estate or beneficiaries. A basic Will merely gives you a say in what happens to everything you own. The ‘Right’ Will can protect your assets and your loved ones and prevent delays, expense and heartache.

 

“I’ve worked hard for my savings. I want it all to go to my family.”

Sadly, it isn’t that simple. Without a will, the people you want to benefit from your estate may get next to nothing, while the people you didn’t want to benefit at all may be entitled to a share!

“I’ve got young children; who would look after them if the worst should happen?”

Without a Will, Care Authorities will decide who is best equipped to look after your children. Shouldn’t you, their parent, be the one to decide what’s best for them after you’re gone?

“What would happen to my children’s inheritance if my spouse remarries?”

The only way to ensure your children inherit as much as possible is to make the right Will. Otherwise, remarrying could adversely affect the inheritance your children deserve. This is because only your most recently made Will is valid. In the event of your spouse remarrying, your wishes would be disregarded.

 

Your future… your choice!

We can advise you of all of the available options tailored to your individual circumstances. You will have all the information you need to select the type of Will that you feel best suits you and your family’s needs.

When it comes to your family’s future, YOU know what’s best. Accord can help put it in writing.

Here at Four Seasons, we realise writing a Will can be a daunting task; we’ll help you take on the challenge, providing expert support and guidance- all from the comfort of your own home, discreetly and in confidence.

The difficulties we face near the end of our lives, particularly care fees, can dramatically deplete our savings, leaving nothing left for our loved ones. You can avoid this by utilising the Right Will. We offer a range of options to suit your circumstances; we’ll help you tailor make a Will that’s right for you.

Experts In Drafting Wills

Four Seasons are experts in Wills and Trusts. Our legal team have decades of collective experience specialising in this area. Our comprehensive Wills can safeguard you, your family and your assets, for life and beyond. By utilising powerful protective measures, our Wills- coupled with good planning- can ensure your family’s inheritance is protected from unnecessary losses. These include government fees, care fees, taxes and claims from unintended beneficiaries against your estate.

The ‘Right’ Will can make the world of difference to those you leave behind

If your Will simply leaves everything to each other on first death, or if you are single, divorced or widowed, then it offers you and your loved ones no protection at all. Remember, your Will only comes into effect on your death. This means your loved ones only get what you have left at that time! Your estate will have already had to pay out any debts and expenses during your lifetime. Furthermore, care fees, Inheritance Tax and other unexpected costs could leave your loved ones with little left to inherit.

Make sure you leave your assets to those you love – not those you don’t!

Protecting Your Home

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Is your home your most valuable asset? Have you worked hard your whole life to pay for and maintain it?

For most people, the answer to both of those questions will be a resounding yes. So with that said, why have so many people still not safeguarded their home the RIGHT way?

Imagine this

You’ve made a Will, stating that, in the event of your death, you intend for your spouse to inherit everything, including your share of the family home. But what if your spouse needs care in later life? Your spouse may be expected to pay for their care themselves… but care fees are getting more and more expensive every year, costing anywhere between £26,000 and £52,000. How can they afford to pay for their care fees and leave some money as inheritance for your children?

This is an upsetting scenario… and unfortunately, it could happen to any of us without the right protection.

The sad truth is that around 200,000 family homes are sold every year to pay for care fees. Estates are drastically reduced- sometimes to nothing at all- to pay for care, leaving beneficiaries with little to no inheritance. The lower limit for care fee means testing is currently set at £14,250. However, your loved ones’ inheritance could be even less than this simply because the home and other assets were not protected in the right way.

 

Don’t leave your home open to any risks.

All of this can be avoided- with careful planning and professional advice, you can protect your home and savings so that your children can benefit as much as possible. Putting yourself in control means you’ll prevent government authorities and other parties getting their hands on your assets.

For Couples

If you jointly own your home, we can protect your property with one of our powerful Protection Wills. These wills provide your partner/spouse with a right to continue to occupy the property and buy a replacement property if necessary. The capital share you have in the property will also be protected. The property is also safeguarded from local authority means testing. The ideal scenario is that half the property is protected from loss, and the other half is disregarded by local authorities. What this means for inheritance is that at least half of the property’s shares will be passed down to your children.

This plan of action is applicable even if you have a mortgage!

Future stress and heartache for your family and beneficiaries can be avoided, but you must act sooner rather than later. If you fall ill and require permanent care, or if you unfortunately lose mental capacity for any reason, it will be too late to protect your home and assets.

Act now!

Sadly, many people put off planning for the future until its too late, leaving children and loved ones devastated to realise that the situation could have been easily avoided. The sooner planning is put into effect, the more effectively we can help you ensure that your assets go to those you love … not those you don’t!

Do you have Savings?

While the family home is usually the most valuable asset, we can also help you to protect your savings. Speak to us today to find out the best way to protect your assets. Protect your Home and your Savings from unnecessary, avoidable losses. Accord can help ensure your loved ones benefit as much as possible from your estate.

Act today and protect those you love

If you want to be certain that your assets will pass down your loved ones or children you’ll need more than a basic Will. Four Seasons Future Planning will help you every step of the way.

Protecting Your Children

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We all love our children and want to protect them. They’re the most precious things in our lives, and we want to ensure they grow up in a safe and loving environment. We can be responsible for that while we’re here… but what about after we’re gone?

Guardians

Like any parent, you’d want to make sure your children could be looked after and raised by someone you trust should the worst happen to you.

Without a Will, however, there is no guidance or instruction as to who you would like to raise your children. In this case, the Court may decide upon a guardian that would not have been your first choice… worse still, they may choose someone you certainly would not want to be their guardian. This is why it is essential that you make a Will and specify clearly who you’d like to be responsible for your children, as it is the only way you can have a say in who the guardian for your children would be.

You decide your children’s future.

Inheritance

No child or grandchild can legally inherit until they turn 18 years old. However, you may- as many people do- feel that 18 is simply too young to receive a large lump sum and use it responsibly, especially when it’s your money that you saved for them to use on things that matter most. You may prefer instead to delay the payment until they reach a more mature age specified by you. This age may be 21, 25 or even older, but you must specify this clearly in your Will.

However, you probably also don’t want to leave them short just in case- if they need money for education, for example. Fortunately, with the right Will and proper planning, we can help you to protect your children’s inheritance whilst allowing some access in accordance with your instructions. The majority will only become available at the age you specify, or when a certain “trigger event” occurs, such as marriage.

Act today and you control how and when your child inherits.

Children from previous relationships

The reality is that in today’s society, many people are in their second marriage, and may have children from previous relationships. Ideally, you’d like those children to still benefit from your inheritance- it is unfortunate, then, that most of these children end up being disinherited due to remarriage and a general lack of awareness of the protection that is available through adequate planning. Speak to us about the ways we can help protect your children if this applies to you.

The in-laws

Protecting your grandchildren may become difficult, especially if your child one day was to get divorced. You may simply not want your child’s spouse to inherit anything from you for whatever reason. We can tailor your Will to these circumstances, ensuring your wishes are heard.

Vulnerable Loved Ones

You may have a loved one with a disability, and wish to ensure they are adequately cared for. They may receive state benefits; however, these could be reduced or stopped entirely if they inherit outright. With the correct planning, we will try to legally minimise any loss, and we may even be able to prevent it entirely.

You may also want to ensure a disabled beneficiary can continue living in your home after you’re gone, but may also want to give a share of the house to each of your children. Without creating special provisions in your Will, this may not be possible, as your child will have no legal protection. We can help to ensure all your intended beneficiaries get a share of your estate, but you must act sooner rather than later. Preparations can only be legally made when you are in good health and have mental capacity.

With the Right Will, you can protect the inheritance and the best interests of your loved ones.

Protecting Your Estate

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We’ve all paid tax during our lifetime; on income, our home, savings and interest. Nobody likes paying tax, and unfortunately, it doesn’t end when you pass away- inheritance tax may apply to your estate!

​The Misconception

Many people wrongly believe that married couples and civil partners have an automatic combined inheritance tax-free threshold of £650,000 when it comes to their estate. This, however, is not the case, and is not as straightforward as it sounds.

The Facts

Married couples and civil partners have the same tax allowance as single people- at present, this is £325,000. If you have basic Wills- in which everything is left to one another in the Will- no tax will be paid upon the first death. Upon the death of the remaining partner, however, tax may become applicable to the remaining assets that make up your estate. Careful planning is essential when trying to avoid or minimise Inheritance Tax. It is possible to benefit from the full threshold of £650,000 by proving any unused portion of the first partner’s allowance at the time they passed away. Therefore, planning will ensure you have the proof necessary to benefit from the full £650,000 threshold to give your estate the maximum amount of protection possible.

Sound complicated?

This may seem difficult to understand, but don’t worry; our legal experts are here to help. They can ensure your estate has the absolute best chance of being totally protected from unnecessary losses to care fees, Inheritance Tax and “unwanted others-” third parties that have some other claim to your estate.

Protecting Your Spouse

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Young married couples often think they don’t need to make a Will, perhaps because they think they’re too young or that they have nothing to give.

Consider this; you own your home, pay mortgage protection each month and have an additional life support policy. Even if you don’t have a lot right now, should the worst happen and these policies pay out, your estate will suddenly have monetary assets!

Without the Right Will, these assets are likely to pass to your spouse automatically. Even if this is what you’d want to happen anyway, it offers no protection for your assets. This is because the assets that were previously solely yours now belong to your spouse, who is now free to do as they please with what you used to own. Even without intending to, your spouse may do something that leaves your estate vulnerable to losses.

 

Remarriage after losing your Spouse

After the loss of a spouse, it is common for the remaining spouse to remarry later on. Upon remarriage, assets are often pooled together with those of the new spouse. They may buy a new home, or put the new spouse on the deed of an existing property.

Picture this; the home you own with your current partner is in joint names. One day, you unfortunately pass away, leaving everything to your spouse- including the house. Eventually, your spouse remarries, but passes away shortly afterwards. This leaves the new spouse, perhaps somebody you’d never met, in possession of the house you used to own! Remember, upon marriage, any former Will is revoked, meaning you get no say whatsoever- unless the proper safeguards are in place. This means your children may inherit nothing at all.

There would be ways for your children to take legal action in order to make a claim, but this is time consuming, extremely expensive and there is no guarantee they would be successful.

Unmarried Partners

Unfortunately, unmarried partners do not have the same protection as married couples when it comes to inheritance. This is often discovered too late, which is why making a Will is vital for unmarried couples. The laws of intestacy only recognise marriages and civil partnerships- cohabiting alone is not enough to ensure your partner will receive your estate once you’re gone. Legal proceedings are expensive and lengthy, and there’s no guarantee your partner will be successful. Making the Right Will is a much safer, more secure and cost effective method of ensuring your assets go to those you choose.

Making your Will now can help ensure that your unmarried partner will be financially secure after you’re gone.

 

Divorced or Separated?

If you are divorced, it is very important that you consider the assets and savings you now hold under your own name. You may have children that need protecting, especially if you decide to remarry or cohabit. Your Will must accommodate this; ensure that you update your Will to reflect your marital status.

If you are separated, but there is no final legal settlement, your ex-spouse could still have a claim to your estate. This is why it is vital to update your Will whenever your life undergoes a big change that could affect inheritance.

Civil Partners

Civil Partners have the same rights as married couples when it comes to inheritance. However, your estate is still susceptible to losses to care fees, local authority means testing, inheritance tax and other claims when the second partner passes away, substantially reducing inheritance for their beneficiaries. Therefore, whatever your circumstances, making a comprehensive and protective Will is much safer than leaving it to chance.

Having the “Right” Will is a very important part of your life planning. Make the Right Will today and ensure your assets pass to those you love; not those you don’t.

FAQ's

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Why do I need a Will?

  • Protect your estate – If you don’t have a Will, the law decides who gets your hard earned assets. You may also miss out on clever planning that can help protect your estate and ensure your loved ones get as much inheritance as possible.

  • Protect children and vulnerable others – appoint a guardian, ensure your child from a previous relationship or marriage is protected, look after a disabled child or simply delay the age of inheritance to an age when you feel your child or grandchild is responsible enough to cope with a large sum of money. We can assist in ensuring your nearest and dearest are looked after.

  • Protect your hard earned assets from care fees – One of the most vital reasons for arranging a Will is to ensure that what you have worked hard for all of your life is not taken from you when it can be avoided. Whether you want to avoid probate fees, prevent unnecessary local authority means testing, ensure certain individuals don’t benefit from your assets or simply want reassurance that you’ll avoid paying excessive Inheritance Tax, we can assist in advising you on the right will to meet your personal requirements.

  • Protect your spouse, partner or civil partner – we understand that your partner or spouse may be your primary concern when you are no longer here, but be cautious of falling into the trap of simply leaving everything to each other. By doing so, you fail to protect and preserve your estate for your children or other loved ones and your estate could end up susceptible to government means testing. Four Seasons are experts in Will writing; there are methods available to help ensure your spouse or partner is protected for life, ensuring those hard earned assets are reserved for the people you hold dear rather than the tax man!

I’m only young; surely I don’t need a Will yet?

Sadly, no one knows what’s around the corner. It takes a small amount of time and effort to make a Will, and it often lets your loved ones avoid a lot of expense and heartache later on. If you choose not to make a Will, the fate of your assets is out of your hands. An unmarried partner, for example, may not inherit anything, which may come as a shock and cause financial hardship. Don’t leave your loved ones in a vulnerable position- make the effort to prepare your Will today and receive the peace of mind that those closest to you will be well looked after.

Don’t my assets pass automatically to my partner or spouse?

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Unmarried partners without a Will may not be recognised as a beneficiary, regardless of the length of the relationship. Unless you enter into a marriage or civil partnership, when you die your surviving partner will not automatically receive any of the assets held in your name. Even if you are married or in a civil partnership, your spouse or civil partner is by no means guaranteed to receive the whole of your estate! Indeed, you may find that your children, including children form previous relationships, as well as other family members are entitled to a share of your estate immediately upon your death, which could have a devastating financial effect on your spouse! In some cases, the family home has to be sold to distribute the estate according to the ruling; around 200,000 are sold every year. Ensure that your estate passes to those you decide, safe in the knowledge that everything will be dealt with simply and amicably when you’re gone in accordance with your Will.

What about my local solicitor?

Many high street solicitors do not specialise in any particular area, and instead offer many different areas of law. This means that Wills are often fitted in around the other demanding areas that their practice deals with.

At Four Seasons, we specialise in Wills, Trusts and Lasting Powers of Attorney. This means that your Will and any related documents is our priority; you will receive a professional, efficient service, confident that we’re focused on making the right Will for you. We are legal experts; our founder was one of only 12 specialists to be selected by the Legal Services Board for their panel of experts, who have reviewed Wills made by banks, solicitors and other large companies to determine the level of service provided to consumers. Four Seasons offers a specialised service; for a document as important as your Will, you and your family deserve the best.

What if I don’t have the time to make a will?

Modern life is often hectic, and we understand that making a Will is usually not at the top of everyone’s list of priorities. We offer various options to fit your lifestyle- we can take instructions by post, sending you a questionnaire that you can complete at your leisure. Alternatively, we can arrange a simple telephone call at a time to suit you, even at evenings or weekends. Making a Will with us is straightforward and simple; with a wide range of options to suit any schedule, there really is no reason to put it off any longer.

How much do your services cost? How do I pay?

The price of our services depends on the package you choose, as well as any extras you add to your Will, such as Trusts and LPAs. However, we aim to provide a Will package to suit any budget. Speak to one of our consultants or arrange a free home visit for more information on the cost of our services. Our services can be paid for by cheque, credit/debit card or cash.

Who is allowed to make a Will?

Any person aged over 18 years of age can make a Will. However, members of the Armed Forces who are on active duty are able to make a Will once they turn 17 years of age.

There is no upper age limit for making a Will; however, you must have testamentary capacity, and be of sound mind. This means that you are aware of the fact that you are making a Will, and the effect that this may have on those who are dependent on you. You must also be aware of the extent of your estate. This, of course, means that those with degenerative conditions such as dementia may not be able to legally make a Will. This is why it is important to act sooner rather than later.

I have difficulties reading or signing things. Can I still make a Will?

Absolutely; there are other options available to you if you have difficulties reading or signing documents. All documentation can be read to you, and provisions are available to produce documents in braille.
Furthermore, those who have trouble signing documents can confirm their consent in other ways, including signing with a mark or having another person sign on their behalf. Feel free to contact one of our consultants, who can explain the full range of options available to you.

I have foreign property; can I still make a Will?

English wills drafted by Four Seasons only cover assets that you own in England and/or Wales. We can also assist with the preparation of Spanish Wills to cover assets held in Spain; if this applies to your circumstances, please contact us for more information.

In regards to foreign property held anywhere else in the world, we’d recommend that you have a Will prepared under the local law of that country; there may be complex legislation affecting inheritance that differs from our own. It is also usually more cost effective to have a Will made in that country, meaning you will avoid additional problems and expenses later on.

Can I make changes to my Will? What if I have more children?

Of course, we can cater for any alterations both before you have signed your Will and afterwards. If you wish to make any changes, just contact us.

We assess your circumstances when preparing your Will to avoid you having to pay to make amendments in the future; for example, if you plan to have more children, we can draft your Will in such a way as to accommodate any children you may have in the future. In addition, if you choose our annual storage option, you get up to three alterations per year free of charge; just contact us for more information.

Who can witness my Will?

We always recommend that an independent person be present as a witness when you sign your Will; that is, someone who is not a family member or another beneficiary of your will. This is to ensure your witnesses are impartial, but ultimately the choice of witnesses is up to you. We can provide full guidance on the witnessing procedure if required.

What a beneficiary dies before me?

Sadly, this occurs quite often; many people include elderly relatives as beneficiaries in their Will and end up outliving them. We would be happy to review your Will to determine if any alterations need to be made should this happen. If Four Seasons prepared your original Will, it may not be necessary to make an alteration. If it does require an alteration, or you would rather your Will be updated to reflect the changes in circumstance, we will gladly prepare your new Will. If you have annual storage, there would be no charge for the alteration.

What are executors and who should they be?

Your executors are the people you name within your Will to be responsible for administering your estate, in accordance with the terms of your Will. The role carries a lot of responsibility and can be an extremely time consuming position, especially at a time where your loved ones are experiencing the emotional stress of bereavement. You may feel it is not viable for loved ones to cope with the stress, worry or hassle of the difficult position; if this is the case, Four Seasons provide a professional executor service. One of our consultants can explain this in more detail if required.

 

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Four Seasons Future Planning
Four Seasons Future Planning
Four Seasons Future Planning
Four Seasons Future Planning