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Q&A on writing wills with MacMillan Cancer support - ANSWERS BACK

(29 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 28-Jan-13 11:38:05

All parents want to make sure they have put the best possible provisions in place for their child's care and wellbeing. It's easy however to forget that this means looking beyond just the day to day and planning for the worst case scenario - what would happened if you weren't around to look after your children yourself?

Few parents realise that the only sure way to ensure their child is taken care of as they wish should they pass away is to write a will. For example, if a parent of a minor child dies where there is no appointed guardian this could result in the child being taken into care whilst a guardian is appointed. Despite this, research says that half of adults in the UK today have not yet put pen to paper.

To tackle this problem Macmillan Cancer Support has launched its new Discounted Will-Writing Service, helping people save money writing their wills. Anyone can use this service, but it's been designed to help Macmillan supporters and people affected by cancer by recommending trusted legal professionals. By using the Discounted Will-Writing Service, mums can rest assured that their kids and the things they care about most in life will always be taken care of as they wish.

To celebrate the launch, Macmillan Cancer Support are offering mumsnetters the chance to ask all your will writing related questions, big or small, to an expert panel including a legal professional. The panel includes Helen Eddleston, Legacy Manager at Macmillan Cancer Support and Liliana Mahon, a solicitor in the Wills, Probate and Wealth Protection department at Shoosmiths Access Legal.

Post your questions on this thread by midday on Monday 4th February and answers will then be posted on Mumsnet on 8th February - so look out for the guidance you need on wills.

ronnierhino Wed 27-Mar-13 17:53:30

Many thanks for the advice. I will be booking an appointment ASAP. A great Q&A thanks

tuckingfits Mon 11-Feb-13 18:01:09

thank you very much for the answers & information provided here. Very interesting & just highlights the need to get a formal Will written.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 11-Feb-13 13:44:10

Thanks to everyone for joining the Q&A. Macmillan would like to acknowledge the support of the panel from The Goodwill Partnership who helped contribute some legal background to the answers.

MacmillanWillWritingExperts Mon 11-Feb-13 13:40:28

ronnierhino

Hi I'm very keen to get a will arranged as I'm no longer in contact with my mum, but my partner (we're not married) says we don't need one. Can I have a will drawn up without his involvement which expresses my wishes for my children? Would it be legally binding if he didn't sign? Thanks

It’s really important for unmarried couples to have a Will. There are lots of ‘urban myths’ about common law wives and husbands. We often hear people saying that ‘it’s okay because my family will look after my partner – they know what I want to happen’ unfortunately, that is not the case! Without a Will you and your partner will find it legally very difficult to deal with financial matters if one of you dies. But, if you can’t convince your partner to do it, then yes, you can make a Will on your own. In fact, a Will is usually only signed by one person not by a couple. If your partner has parental responsibility for your children then, if you were to die, he is responsible for the day to day care of your children. As in some of the other replies above, if you do leave instructions about the care of your children then do bear in mind this is an expression of your wishes made by you. If there were ever a question about who should care for your children then it would be taken into account.

One option for writing your will is to use Macmillan Cancer Support’s new Discounted Will Writing service, which helps people find a legal professional they can trust to write their will at discounted prices. Anyone can use this service, but it's been designed to help Macmillan’s supporters and people affected by cancer. The service is available in a variety of ways: online, over the phone or face to face with a solicitor at home or in a branch. There are affordable options to suit people’s needs, with professionally written wills starting from just £69 and discounts start from 10% upwards, depending on the service that you use. This means that it really is incredibly simply to make sure the people and things you care about most are taken care of after you’re gone.

You can find out more about the Discounted Will-Writing Service at: www.macmillan.org.uk/willwriting

MacmillanWillWritingExperts Mon 11-Feb-13 13:39:15

MrsShrek3

Had to do ours a few months ago when dh was dx with cancer. The executors are all older than ourselves, not sure whether that is a problem and we will have to re-write should any of the executors pre-decease us?

In an ideal world your executors should be the same age as you, or younger exactly for this reason, but sometimes that just isn’t possible! You should review your Will on a regular basis to make sure that the instructions in it are still up to date. Moving house, having more children, a change in financial circumstances or deciding to leave a gift to your chosen charity can all be good reasons to review your Will. In the same way if someone named in the Will dies – whether they are an executor or a beneficiary – you should review your Will and make sure that this person is replaced. If more than one person is named as an executor you may not want to amend your Will and be happy with one person only to act as your executor. But, if there is only one executor and they die before you, it is crucial that you amend your Will. Using Macmillan Cancer Support’s Discounted Will-Writing is one great way of finding a legal professional you can trust to help you with your will at a discounted cost.

MacmillanWillWritingExperts Mon 11-Feb-13 13:38:20

WhispersOfWickedness

Really interested to see the answers here as we really need to write a will. We wouldn't want to commit to one specific person to look after DC if we died as we want the decision made based on family circumstances etc. However, is it possible to specify certain individuals who you don't want to look after your DC?

Appointing a guardian in your Will is simply a chance to say who, in an ideal world, you would like to look after your children in the event of your death. Instructions about whom you don’t want to be the guardian will be treated in the same way. It is a good idea to write a letter to go with your Will explaining in detail the reasons behind your decisions, and why particular people should be avoided. If there was ever a dispute or question about who the children should be looked after by, then the letter will be a valuable insight into your decision making process.

MacmillanWillWritingExperts Mon 11-Feb-13 13:37:48

LoganMummy

My husband and I made wills last year leaving everything to our DS should the worst happen. We are now expecting our second DC - how easy is it to change our wills to leave everything to both DCs? Do we need to get new wills or is it easy to amend our current ones? If so, how do we do that and what can we expect to have to pay?
Thanks!

This is an update to your Will that can be made relatively easily. You and your husband will have to create codicils which will add the newest addition to your family as a beneficiary. You will need to speak to a solicitor who will be able to prepare codicils for you – adding a codicil is cheaper than writing a new will.

MacmillanWillWritingExperts Mon 11-Feb-13 13:37:18

IcanandIwill

Can I make provision that up to a certain age my children would be looked after by one person and then at a later stage it would be someone else? I'm recently widowed so I presume this will add an extra dimension to things?

Yes, it is entirely possible. You can appoint guardians in your Will outlining who is to look after any children you have under age 18 when you die - although this is just a chance for you to say what you would like to happen rather than being legally enforceable. It is more of an expression of wishes. From a practical perspective making changes to the person that looks after your children dependant on their age may not offer the best stability or continuity of care for your children, but it is a decision personal to you and your family circumstances.

MacmillanWillWritingExperts Mon 11-Feb-13 13:36:42

FrillyMilly

If money/property is inherited by minors does it go in to trust or to the appointed guardian to help with their upbringing? Is it possible to put money in to trust so that it is given to a child in stages eg amounts at 18,21,25.

If you do not have a Will your children’s inheritance will be held on trust until they attain the age of 18. It will not necessarily be your children’s guardians who will be the trustees of the trust fund. It is really important to have a Will in these circumstances so that you can decide who you want to be the trustees of any trust fund created for your children. A Will allows you to decide at what age your children inherit and can be flexible so that your children can inherit at certain intervals if you so wish.

MacmillanWillWritingExperts Mon 11-Feb-13 13:36:16

karatekimmi

I am older than my husband. If we died together (eg car accident) is it true that legally I would die first (as the oldest) then him, and my possessions (and son?) would pass to him first and them to his family leaving my family out of inheriting (or being responsible for LO)?

If you and your husband died together in a car accident and it is not possible to determine who died first then, yes, you being older will be deemed to have died first. However, this does not mean that your husband will inherit your estate. The rules of intestacy will apply if you do not have a Will. Under these rules, in order to inherit from your estate your husband must survive you by 28 days. As this will not be the case, in this example your children will inherit your estate. The rules of intestacy can be complicated and it is highly recommended that you and your husband both have Wills so that you have control over what happens to your estates on your respective deaths. So far as the guardian is concerned for your young son, it is very important that you and your husband agree who would be the testamentary guardian or guardians should you both die.

MacmillanWillWritingExperts Mon 11-Feb-13 13:34:48

OldBeanbagz

Should I update my will every time my beneficiaries move house? Or can i just store their address details with my existing will?

Also what would happen if my children do not want to go and live with their appointed guardian?

It is not necessary to update your Will each time a beneficiary changes address but, as you say, it is advisable to store the updated contact details with your Will. This also applies to your executors or guardians if they should also change address.

A testamentary guardian appointed in a Will is an expression of your wish and as such it is not legally binding. However, if there was ever a dispute about who your children should live with after your death then your wishes would be considered.

MacmillanWillWritingExperts Mon 11-Feb-13 13:34:25

tuckingfits

My partner & I live in Scotland (in case that changes the advice). We have a mortgage on our home & one son. We haven't written wills yet but keep meaning to. If my partner were to die,as we are unmarried,is it true that his mother would have a claim on 50% of our house because we haven't written s will?

This is something I keep hearing & would like to know the answer. Really must get our wills written.

In terms of the intestate succession rules that apply in Scotland the whole of the estate of each partner will fall due to his/her son. If the son is under the age of 16 the Executor of the estate of his parent is required to apply to the Accountant of Court in Scotland for a direction as to the administration of the estate in question (specifically in this case a one half share of the equity in the property). If the couple had no children then, in that circumstance, his/her parents would be entitled to a 50% share of their intestate estate equally between them.

Related points to consider are:-

•The title deeds for the house may contain a survivorship clause (like a joint tenancy). If so, ownership of the property will revert to the survivor in full on the first death and thus bypass the son; and
•The surviving partner may have a right to make a claim on the estate of his/her partner. This is not absolute and would require an application to the Sheriff Court within six months of the date of death. The Sheriff has discretion as to the amount to be awarded, if anything, which in any event would be no more than a surviving spouse would have received on intestacy.

All in all it is by far a better option to have a Will in place to avoid all of the above.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 11-Feb-13 13:17:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MacmillanWillWritingExperts Mon 11-Feb-13 13:12:02

Punkatheart

Can I leave a provision in my will about something other than money? For example, who my daughter goes to live with? Can I specify someone I do NOT wish her to live with?

Yes, you can. You can name testamentary guardians in your Will. Please note, however, that the appointment of guardians is not legally binding. If there are people who you would prefer that your daughter did not live with you could also add this to your Will but, as the Will could become a public document, it would be preferable to put these wishes in a side letter to be kept with your Will. Again, this is not binding and is merely an expression of your wishes.

In addition, if you want to support a cause close to your heart in your will, such as a charity, you can leave a gift in any form. It’s a common misconception that a legacy needs to be a lot of money for it to be worthwhile when that’s simply not the case. Gifts left to Macmillan Cancer Support in people’s will have included everything from a fleet of black cabs, to a herd of beef steer cows. Gifts in wills, of all shapes and sizes, are so important for Macmillan and make up more than a third of our funding. Large or small, every legacy makes a difference – we couldn’t do what we do without them.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 11-Feb-13 13:08:56

The answers are now back from the Macmillan expert panel and we're about to post them up.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 04-Feb-13 18:20:30

This Q&A is now closed. We'll be sending the Qs over to the panel and Macmillan Cancer Support and will post up their answers on 8th February.

ronnierhino Fri 01-Feb-13 21:43:10

Hi I'm very keen to get a will arranged as I'm no longer in contact with my mum, but my partner (we're not married) says we don't need one. Can I have a will drawn up without his involvement which expresses my wishes for my children? Would it be legally binding if he didn't sign? Thanks

MrsShrek3 Thu 31-Jan-13 00:23:44

Had to do ours a few months ago when dh was dx with cancer. The executors are all older than ourselves, not sure whether that is a problem and we will have to re-write should any of the executors pre-decease us?

Really interested to see the answers here as we really need to write a will. We wouldn't want to commit to one specific person to look after DC if we died as we want the decision made based on family circumstances etc. However, is it possible to specify certain individuals who you don't want to look after your DC?

LoganMummy Wed 30-Jan-13 20:40:12

My husband and I made wills last year leaving everything to our DS should the worst happen. We are now expecting our second DC - how easy is it to change our wills to leave everything to both DCs? Do we need to get new wills or is it easy to amend our current ones? If so, how do we do that and what can we expect to have to pay?
Thanks!

IcanandIwill Wed 30-Jan-13 16:13:07

Can I make provision that up to a certain age my children would be looked after by one person and then at a later stage it would be someone else? I'm recently widowed so I presume this will add an extra dimension to things?

FrillyMilly Tue 29-Jan-13 18:43:10

If money/property is inherited by minors does it go in to trust or to the appointed guardian to help with their upbringing? Is it possible to put money in to trust so that it is given to a child in stages eg amounts at 18,21,25.

karatekimmi Tue 29-Jan-13 18:39:58

I am older than my husband. If we died together (eg car accident) is it true that legally I would die first (as the oldest) then him, and my possessions (and son?) would pass to him first and them to his family leaving my family out of inheriting (or being responsible for LO)?

mumblechum1 Tue 29-Jan-13 16:39:41

<<sits on hands>> I'm so used to answering the Wills questions on MN, I keep forgetting I'm not allowed to answer these ones!

OldBeanbagz Tue 29-Jan-13 16:02:49

Should I update my will every time my beneficiaries move house? Or can i just store their address details with my existing will?

Also what would happen if my children do not want to go and live with their appointed guardian?

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