Do I Need A Will To Buy a Property?
No, you do not need a will to buy a property. However, having a will in place is a good idea, regardless of whether you own property or not. A will is a legal document stating how you want your assets distributed after death. This includes your property, money, and possessions.
If you die without a will, your assets will be distributed according to intestacy laws. This means your assets will go to your closest relatives, which may not be what you wanted. For example, if you have a partner but no children, your assets would go to your parents or siblings.
A will allows you to choose who will inherit your property and possessions, and it also allows you to make specific instructions about how you want your funeral to be handled. It can also help to avoid disputes among your family members after your death.
If you are buying a property, it is a good time to consider getting a will. This is because you will be thinking about your future and your family, and it is a natural time to ensure that your affairs are in order.
In the conveyancing process, we receive many questions, with one of the most common being whether you need a will in place for a property purchase. While the short answer is no, a will is not legally required. It can make a lot of sense to put one in place. This is why Harrison’s Solicitors conveyancing and will writing services are often used together.
Why Should I Get A Will?
Having a will means that your assets will be passed on to the people you want, making it much easier for your family or friends to sort everything out when you die. Without a will, the process can be more time-consuming and stressful. Writing a will is especially important if you have children or other family who depend on you financially or want to leave something to people outside your immediate family.
When you purchase a property, you are increasing your assets. If you have a Will in place, you can dictate through the terms of your Will exactly who your assets are to pass to. If you die without leaving a Will, then you have no control over who inherits your assets, and they will pass under the Rules of Intestacy and depend on whether there has been a full or partial intestacy. It is important to consider making a Will once you buy a property, or if you already have a will, you should consider revising it if your circumstances have changed. The Rules of Intestacy are complicated, and there is a list of beneficiaries to whom the Estate is to pass, so if you want control over your assets, you should ensure you make a Will.
If you decide to get a will when buying a house, you should draw up a comprehensive list of all your assets. This will give you a better idea about which items you need to name in your will specifically, and you can decide in advance who you wish it to go to after your death. Enlisting the services of a solicitor can be extremely useful when drafting up a will, as they will ensure that all the wording is legally sound and there are no loopholes that could endanger your estate. Once the will has been written, it will be permanent unless you decide to change it or draft a new one entirely.
How Does Joint Property Ownership Affect My Will?
If you are buying a property with another person, you should consider whether you want to be tenants in common or as joint tenants. This decision will affect your options regarding who inherits the property.
A Joint Tenancy is where a property is held without any shares being allocated to a person. This means that if one of the tenants passes away, the other tenant would be entitled to the property. In short, this property cannot be passed down in a will. When both joint tenants die at the same time – for example, in a car accident – the ownership of the property passes on to the youngest person’s relatives under the rules of intestacy.
A Tenancy in Common is where a property is held in shares. On the death of one of the owners, the share owned by that person does not automatically pass to the other owner, it passes according to the deceased person’s will, or if there is no will, then it passes to their nearest surviving relative under the rules of survivorship. This might be the other tenant if they are married/in a civil partnership. If your co-owner is not your next of kin and you want your property to pass onto your joint owner in the event of your death, you must leave it to them in a will. Otherwise, they will find themselves owning the property with whoever their next of kin is.
If you want more information, please read our blog ‘Ways To Jointly Own A Property.
Can I Change My Type Of Ownership?
Suppose you own a property with someone else and have decided to write a will. In that case, you should also consider the issues surrounding joint ownership of property to amend the type of ownership if necessary. Changing your type of ownership is possible, and Harrison’s Solicitors can make this process easy for you. For example, you may own a property as a joint tenant, but you want to leave your share of the property to someone other than the joint owner. In that case, we can help you change how you own the property to Tenants in Common. We will prepare all the necessary documentation for you to sign and deal with the Land Registry.
There are several reasons you might decide to change your type of ownership when writing your will. For example, you may want to leave your share of the property outright to someone else or place the property into a Trust. Leaving shares of property in a Trust is commonly seen where you want to protect against it being used to pay potential care home fees or if you want to allow your spouse/partner to live in your share for their lifetime but, upon their death or subsequent re-marriage, the property passes to your children. These types of arrangements are dealt with through Trust Wills.
Inheritance Tax (IHT)
When a person dies and administering their Estate begins, there may be IHT to pay. In most cases, IHT must be paid within six months from the date a person dies. If it is not paid within this time, penalties and interest will have to be paid to Inland Revenue.
Gifts made to the following are exempt from IHT:
- Your Spouse
- UK charities
- Some national institutions, e.g. museums, the National Trust and Universities
- A Political Party based in the UK (subject to certain conditions)
A will can help reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax that might be payable on the property’s value and money you leave behind.
How Much Does A Will Cost?
There are several ways you can get a will written. The best option for you depends on how complicated your wishes are:
- A simple will – can cost between £144 and £240
- A complex will – can cost between £150 and £300. It may be more complex as you have been divorced and have children
- A specialist will – that involves trusts or overseas properties, or you want tax planning advice – expect to pay a minimum of £500 to £600 according to Which?
- You can buy a template document in stationery shops for as little as £10.
Harrison’s Solicitors Will Writing and Conveyancing Service
At Harrison’s Solicitors, we provide conveyancing and will writing services in Reading, Woodley, and Caversham. We aim to take the stress out of buying and selling a property. You can rely on us every step of the way. If you are interested in our conveyancing or will writing service, please do not hesitate to contact us today.