The only way that you can be sure that, on your death, your assets pass to the people you choose is by making a will.

If you die without having made an effective will then you are said to have died ‘intestate’. The intestacy rules lay out a set order for inheritance which you can see by clicking here but will these achieve the outcome you want?

Did you know that an unmarried partner (sometimes called the ‘Common-law wife or husband’) will not be entitled to any part of your estate under the intestacy rules?  Or that a spouse or civil partner may not necessarily receive everything?

This can create a sense of unfairness which can lead to disagreements – and may result in expensive court action involving the estate.  Even if things do not get that far, the outcome may not be what you want and may cause all sorts of problems for those you leave behind.

Keep your will up-to-date

If you already have a will – when did you last check it for relevance?

Here are just some reasons why your will may need to be updated:-

  • the people that you appointed as executors have died or are no longer able (or willing) to act
  • some of the beneficiaries have died or have already had their intended gift.
  • you intended that a specific gift be given to a beneficiary but you no longer own that asset – in which case the gift will fail
  • you created a complicated tax-saving provision which is no longer necessary or appropriate
  • you have divorced.  Did you know that your will could be made wholly ineffective if you appointed your spouse/civil partner as sole executor and sole beneficiary – and have since divorced or had the marriage annulled?  This is because your spouse /civil partner will be deemed to have died on the date of the dissolution or annulment
  • you have married or entered into a civil partnership since your will was made.  The act of marriage or civil partnership revokes a will – unless it was specially prepared with that particular union in mind.
  • You may be in a second marriage or civil partnership where you and/or your partner have children from previous marriages. You may also have children from your current marriage. This can raise problems when your expectation of where funds will go on the death of you and your partner is not matched by what the intestacy laws provide. Here a carefully-drafted will can be a huge help.

It is best to review your will every few years, or more regularly if your circumstances change radically. Some small changes can be made by codicil, whilst larger changes may call for the will to be entirely re-written.

Statutory Wills

If someone does not have the mental capacity to make a will, but should do so to better arrange their affairs – then an application can be made to the Court of Protection so that an appropriate will can be drawn up and put into effect for them.

The Cost of a Will

Probably not as much as you might think – and almost certainly worth the peace of mind.  Call us to obtain an estimate.


Wills Team

Mark Butson


Mark qualified as a solicitor in 1985 and has been a partner since 1990. He is now our senior partner.

He has expertise in the preparation of wills, and has considerable experience in the administration of estates, deeds of family arrangement and related inheritance tax issues. He can provide advice where there is no will, and also where a will becomes contested.

He regularly advises upon the creation and tailoring of Lasting Powers of Attorney, and in relation to Court of Protection applications where the person concerned no longer has the ability to manage their own affairs.

Mark advises in all aspects of conveyancing (both commercial and residential), including development and with commercial landlord & tenant transactions. He has experience of dealing with contested issues before the First-tier Tribunal of the Property Chamber, and in relation to boundary and rights disputes concerning property and ownership claims – including those by adverse possession.

He also regularly assists small businesses in the practical resolution of employment issues.

Tel: 01289 301284

Frances Cowan


Frances joined the firm in 2000, completed her training with TC Smith and qualified as a solicitor in 2002. She became a partner in August 2014.

Her interests are in all aspects of commercial conveyancing, including residential developments. She also has considerable experience in assisting with residential conveyancing.

Her family are actively involved with farming, and she has a keen interest in agricultural matters – heading up the firm’s agricultural section with assistance from John Marshall. In 2014 Frances qualified as a Fellow of the Agricultural Law Association, and this has enhanced her expertise in all areas of rural practice – including agricultural holdings, farm sales and purchases, estate planning & taxation, town & country planning and the common agricultural policy.

Frances also advises as to the preparation of lasting powers of attorney and wills – and the administration of estates.

Tel: 01289 301294