Video Witnessing Extended
The Ministry of Justice confirmed on January 11th 2022 that the legislation governing the witnessing of wills via video will be extended beyond the current 31st January deadline to 31 January 2024 while the Law Commission considers potential reforms to the law around wills, including whether to make these changes permanent.
Video Witnessing now Legal
As of September 2020, the Wills Act 1837 will be amended to allow the two Will witnesses to be virtually or physically present. This is a very welcomed announcement due to the challenges placed by those trying to plan for their future during the COVID-19 pandemic. With shielding, isolation and social distancing measures in place nationally since March 2020, those making a Will (testators) and their witnesses were unable to adhere to the existing Will laws and guidelines.
The existing law states that Wills must be made in the presence of two witnesses so that each has a clear line of sight to each signature made. Historically, this has always meant that there must be a physical presence among all parties. Questions were raised early in the pandemic about the likelihood of a Will witnessed remotely being legally accepted however, until now, there was no official flexibility from the Ministry of Justice on the matter.
The amended law will allow Wills created between 31 January 2020 and 31 January 2022 to be recognised if it was witnessed using video technology. During the pandemic, some testators took the risk of creating a Will via video and this amendment to the law will provide peace of mind to those individuals that their last wishes will still be respected during these exceptional times.
The so-called Residence Nil-Rate Band (the RNRB) came into effect on April 6th 2017 and we are advising ALL of our clients to review their Wills. For deaths after 6 April 2017 a person will have two separate nil rate bands, providing certain conditions are met. There will be the ordinary NRB, currently frozen at £325,000 and due to stay this way until 2020/21. There will also be the RNRB which will be introduced at £100,000 per person and will rise by £25,000 per tax year until it reaches £175,000 in 2020/21, after which point it will rise in line with the consumer prices index. The availability of the RNRB will be dependent upon a number of conditions being met. In short, to qualify for the RNRB a person must die on or after 6 April 2017, they must have possessed a qualifying residential interest, all or part of this interest must be left to their direct descendants or spouse of their descendants (closely inherited) and their estate must not exceed the taper threshold to a point that the entire RNRB is taped away. If the residence is left via a Discretionary Trust then it will NOT qualify for the RNRB so anybody with Discretionary Trust Wills hoping to use the RNRB should change to normal Mirror Wills immediately. Please contact us if you have a query on this subject.
Almost 3/4 have no Will
According to a recent study, less than 3 in 10 people in the UK have a Will. Last year the Treasury - in effect the Taxman - ended up taking over £50m from people who died intestate - without a Will. Making a Will has never been more important. The Laws of Intestacy (the rules applied if you die without a Will - see What if I have no Will? on the left hand side of this page for details) rarely mean that your Estate goes to whom you wanted it to, and whats more the process takes a lot more time - and costs more - than if you had made a Will. All this at a time of great distress for your relatives and loved ones.
People put off making a Will for a number of reasons - often cost and time. That is why TenMinuteWill exists: we provide a service that allows people to make a Will quickly, easily and affordably in their own time. More and more people are taking advantage of the Internet to complete this essential task in their lives: since we started providing this service in 2001 over 100,000 Wills have been made using our service.
On August 17th 2015 a new European regulation came into force. The new regulation is technically called Regulation 650/2012 but is more commonly known as Brussels IV. All new Wills made at tenminutewill.co.uk allow you to take advantage of this new regulation.
The regulation allows you to now override the forced heirship succession laws in an EU country in which you hold assets and instead have the succession laws of the country of your nationality apply.
English common law means English testators can leave their assets to whomsoever they wish, (subject to the Inheritance Family Provisions legislation). This is known as testamentary freedom.
In continental Europe, however, a big part of an estate (often around half) is reserved for the surviving children of the deceased and must be equally divided between them. This forced heirship makes it impossible to disinherit financially irresponsible children; it also makes it hard to reward the deserving by, say, leaving more to a daughter who gave up a career to care for her ailing parents.
Put more simply, a married couple may not leave everything to each other upon first death.
Also clawback laws in many countries stop parents from dodging forced heirship by giving assets away in their lifetime. This applies to gifts made in the last years of life (two years in Austria, ten in Germany), or much longer: in some countries, no time limit applies.
If you are resident in England with real estate in France, for example, the laws of forced heirship would apply to that part of your estate in France.
By using tenminutewill.co.uk you are able to take advantage of Brussels IV and override these local laws.
New Intestacy Laws
On October 1st 2014 the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014 came into effect. Changes have been made to the Intestacy Laws, the definition of chattels in a Will, and the definition of children for the purposes of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Our website and products have been amended to incorporate all of these changes.
Beware rogue traders
On June 13th 2014 the new Consumer Contracts Regulations came into effect. You can view a summary of your rights here. TenMinuteWill implemented changes to its business processes in time, but we are aware of several companies in the online legal market who did not - and even some who openly flaunt the regulations. Of course it is your right to choose to use whoever you wish when making your Will and/or Lasting Power of Attorney, but the best way to rid the market of these rogue traders is to make them go out of business by refusing to deal with them.
Providing for your children
We are often asked the question: How can we ensure that the Guardians of our children have money to look after them until the children are old enough to inherit?
With our Wills, this is already taken care of: a clause is included to permit your Executors (who are also the Trustees of the Will) to draw from your children's inheritance to provide for their Education, Maintenance and Benefit at any time, up to the entire amount they are due to inherit. Such drawing of funds can also be done in the form of simply paying money to your children's Guardians and leaving the rest to them.
So in other words you do not have to worry about this issue: if you have one of our Wills then a standard clause in the Will has already taken care of it.
Sign and Witness your Will
Recent cases in the courts have highlighted once more how important it is to properly sign your Will in front of 2 witnesses who must then sign while you watch. All Will packages purchased from TenMinuteWill include clear instructions for performing this straightforward process: who can and cannot be a witness (just about anybody over 18 so long as they are not a beneficiary of the Will), who signs where and in what order. The signing and witnessing process takes just 2 minutes and then your Will is fully legal. It couldnt be easier. When a lawyer attempts to challenge a Will the very first thing he will do is try to prove that it wasnt correctly signed and witnessed. All too often he will succeed if you havent spent that important 2 minutes properly finalising your Will.
Winehouse died Intestate
Recent reports based on filings made in probate court indicate that Amy Winehouse (who tragically died aged just 27 in July 2011) died intestate - without making a Will. The Laws of Intestacy therefore take effect and her parents will (eventually) inherit her entire estate of approximately £3 million after tax. Amy Winehouse is alleged to have still had a close relationship with her ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil. Furthermore, she was said to be close to her older brother Alex. Whether or not Amy Winehouse intended for either of them - or anyone else - to receive something from her estate nobody will ever know for sure. By not making a Will, she lost out on the opportunity to leave anyone anything. Amy Winehouse provides yet another example of why it is so important to make a Will.
Start making your Will right now