Overview

We understand that preparing a will is a big step for most people and that choosing the right advisers and having confidence in their advice is therefore vital.

Our large, diverse and experienced team of specialist wills advisors allows us to offer a comprehensive and flexible service to the whole of the UK.

We offer a choice of will writing services, all of which are both convenient and competitively priced with the assurance that your will will be created by fully qualified will experts.

For individuals | Private wealth | The importance of having an up to date will

Did you know that 60%* of UK adults don't have a will? The above video highlights why everyone should make sure they have a valid will. (*YouGov report on behalf of Royal London – 2,089 adults surveyed between 10 and 11 October 2017.)

 

 

Key contact

Matthew is a partner and heads up the firm’s private wealth offering. Matthew has many years’ experience of practising in the area of wills and probate and sits on the Law Commission’s advisory group on reforming the law on wills. Matthew has also had considerable experience of assisting with the implementation of will writing products for the customers of financial institutions and the employees of multinational companies.

View team

Points to consider

To get started, there are three points to consider:

  1. What type of service suits you best?

    We offer  telephone, online or face to face (at our offices in Cardiff or London) service options. The details for each option are set out below.

  2. What type of will suits your needs?

    Do you require a trust in your will? Do you and your partner have the same wishes? Do you require complex tax advice? The answers to these questions will inform which type of will suits your needs. Further information is provided below.    
     
  3. Do you also require a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)? 

    If you think you might require one or more LPA, it may make sense to see to this at the same time as writing your will. Visit our Powers of Attorney service page for further information.

 

Over the telephone
 

This option is ideal for those who want to have a conversation and seek guidance from one of our experts but are unable to visit our offices in Cardiff or London.

It is suitable for relatively straightforward wills where general advice is sufficient; this may include general advice regarding tax and the use of trusts but if specific advice about a particular tax point peculiar to a person is required, or a detailed bespoke tax report, then our bespoke service may be more suitable.

With our telephone service, we provide our comprehensive will writing instruction form which highlights any issues that require consideration and assists in determining the best way to give effect to your wishes.

A qualified wills adviser is available on the telephone to go through the will writing instruction form and answer any of your queries. They will then prepare and send a draft of your will to you.

Upon receipt of that draft, our wills adviser is available again on the telephone to address any queries and make any amendments that may be necessary. Once a draft is finalised, a final version is sent for execution, along with a detailed guide as to how to do so. Once it is executed, the will is stored free of charge.

Create your own will online
 

If you are clear on what you wish to achieve and if what you want is uncontroversial and unlikely to be disputed, this option may suit you. This is our most straightforward and simplistic will writing service. You will use our will writing software and extensive precedents suite to write your own will. Once your will is finalised, we will store it free of charge.

Please note that this option is self-sufficient; there is no legal advice provided and no interaction with our lawyers.

Hugh James online will writing platform

Face to face
 

This service includes the opportunity to meet with us, either in our Cardiff or London offices. In some cases – depending on geographical location – we may be able to meet at your home or another location convenient to you. Please note that we will propose a further charge for our travel time.

As with our telephone offering, some general advice regarding tax and the use of trusts is provided, but if specific advice about a particular tax point or a detailed bespoke report is required then our bespoke service may be more suitable.

This service also includes our comprehensive will writing instruction form and you will be able to go through the will writing instruction form with a qualified wills advisor who can answer any queries you may have. A draft will is then prepared by us and sent to you for consideration.

Upon receipt of that draft, our wills adviser is available in person or over the phone to address any queries and to make any amendments. Once the draft is finalised, you will have a final meeting to go over the will one last time and for us to oversee the execution and act as witnesses. Once it is executed, the will is stored free of charge.

This option is ideal for those who want to have a conversation and seek guidance from one of our experts but are unable to visit our offices in Cardiff or London.

It is suitable for relatively straightforward wills where general advice is sufficient; this may include general advice regarding tax and the use of trusts but if specific advice about a particular tax point peculiar to a person is required, or a detailed bespoke tax report, then our bespoke service may be more suitable.

With our telephone service, we provide our comprehensive will writing instruction form which highlights any issues that require consideration and assists in determining the best way to give effect to your wishes.

A qualified wills adviser is available on the telephone to go through the will writing instruction form and answer any of your queries. They will then prepare and send a draft of your will to you.

Upon receipt of that draft, our wills adviser is available again on the telephone to address any queries and make any amendments that may be necessary. Once a draft is finalised, a final version is sent for execution, along with a detailed guide as to how to do so. Once it is executed, the will is stored free of charge.

If you are clear on what you wish to achieve and if what you want is uncontroversial and unlikely to be disputed, this option may suit you. This is our most straightforward and simplistic will writing service. You will use our will writing software and extensive precedents suite to write your own will. Once your will is finalised, we will store it free of charge.

Please note that this option is self-sufficient; there is no legal advice provided and no interaction with our lawyers.

Hugh James online will writing platform

This service includes the opportunity to meet with us, either in our Cardiff or London offices. In some cases – depending on geographical location – we may be able to meet at your home or another location convenient to you. Please note that we will propose a further charge for our travel time.

As with our telephone offering, some general advice regarding tax and the use of trusts is provided, but if specific advice about a particular tax point or a detailed bespoke report is required then our bespoke service may be more suitable.

This service also includes our comprehensive will writing instruction form and you will be able to go through the will writing instruction form with a qualified wills advisor who can answer any queries you may have. A draft will is then prepared by us and sent to you for consideration.

Upon receipt of that draft, our wills adviser is available in person or over the phone to address any queries and to make any amendments. Once the draft is finalised, you will have a final meeting to go over the will one last time and for us to oversee the execution and act as witnesses. Once it is executed, the will is stored free of charge.

Our commitment to service

Our service options are summarised in the table below:

 

   Telephone offering Create your own will online  Face to face offering  Bespoke service 
Use of online will writing platform   ✓     
Telephone support   
Face to face meetings at our offices     
Witnessing service     
Inheritance tax assessment and advice  
Option to use Hugh James Trust Corporation Limited
Full bespoke tax report      

Whichever way you decide to write your will, we will work to the timeframes below:

  • Draft wills will be sent within 10 working days of receipt of final instructions and payment
  • Amended draft wills will be sent within five working days of a request for amendment
  • Final wills will be sent within five working days of approval of a draft
  • Copy wills will be sent within two working days of receipt of the executed final will

Types of will

Standard single will
 

A standard single will is designed for one person:

  • to appoint their choice of trusted individuals to act as executors of their estate;
  • to make specific gifts;
  • to nominate who will benefit from the rest of their estate; and
  • to appoint guardians for minor children.

    A standard single will does not include formal trust provisions. It may, however, include non-complex trusts such as gifts to individuals when they reach a certain age.
Standard mirror wills
 

Standard mirror wills are designed for couples (married or unmarried, civil partners or otherwise), who have similar wishes for the distribution of their estates:

  • to appoint their choice of trusted individuals to act as executors of their estates;
  • to make specific gifts ;
  • to nominate who will benefit from the rest of their estate; and
  • to appoint guardians for minor children.

Standard mirror wills do not include formal trust provisions. They may, however, include non-complex trusts such as gifts to individuals when they reach a certain age.

Trust single will
 

A trust standard will is designed for one person:

  • to appoint their choice of trusted individuals to act as executors of their estate;
  • to make specific gifts;
  • to nominate who will benefit from the rest of their estate;
  • to appoint guardians for minor children; and
  • to create trusts as may be necessary to offer increased protection of their assets such as property and possessions.

A trust will enables one person or more to hold an individual’s property, possessions or savings subject to certain duties to use and protect it for the benefit of others.

Trust mirror wills
 

Trust mirror wills are designed for couples (married or unmarried, civil partners or otherwise), who have similar wishes for the distribution of their estates:

  • to appoint their choice of trusted individuals to act as executors of their estates;
  • to make specific gifts;
  • to nominate who will benefit from the rest of their estate;
  • to appoint guardians for minor children; and
  • to create trusts as may be necessary to offer increased protection of your assets.

Trust mirror wills enable one person or more to hold an individual’s property, possessions or savings subject to certain duties to use and protect it for the benefit of others.

Bespoke service

This service is most suitable for those who are likely to require in depth and bespoke tax and estate planning advice before finalising their wills.

It includes all of the components of our face to face or telephone offering (depending on your preference), with the option of a full written tax report based on your individual circumstances, providing comprehensive advice on your personal tax position and bespoke planning advice. This service may also incorporate the drafting of further documents pursuant to our advice, such as trust deeds or letters of wishes.

As each individual’s needs are different, we quote for prices via this service on a case by case basis but will always endeavour to agree a fixed fee before any work is carried out.

Our bespoke service can be provided via either a telephone or face to face. One of our senior solicitors will call you first for a no obligation ‘scoping call’ at the outset, in order to assess precise needs and provide an accurate estimate before any work begins.

Pricing

A summary of our pricing is below. Please note that we do require funds on account before we commence work. Whilst we will do our best to identify the product best for you at the outset, this could potentially change upon detailed discussion with your advisor, at which point we will obviously provide a further quote, as below.

  Standard single will  Standard mirror wills  Trust single will  Trust mirror wills
Telephone offering  £150 + VAT £195 + VAT £195 + VAT £315 + VAT
Create your own will online £75 + VAT £110 + VAT N/A N/A
Face to face offering  £250 + VAT £295 + VAT  £395 + VAT  £515 + VAT
Bespoke offering  All options within our bespoke offering are priced on an individual basis

Your questions answered

Why do I need a will?
 

By executing a will you can:

  • Choose who will administer your estate after your death and pass your assets on to your beneficiaries
  • Choose who will act as trustee for any ongoing trust created
  • Express your preference as to the guardians for any of your infant children
  • Dictate to whom your assets pass, and on what terms.
  • Express a preference as to your funeral wishes
  • Ensure that your estate is distributed in as a tax efficient a way as possible and that your assets are protected as best they can be

    In the absence of a valid will, your estate will pass via the intestacy provisions there is no guarantee that it will pass in the way that you want it to. Our guide to the intestacy provisions can be found here:

Intestacy rules flowchart



What sort of trusts are typically contained within wills?
 

Property trusts (right of occupation)
A property trust can be useful to ensure that your spouse or partner is entitled to remain in occupation of your share of the family home after your death but also that your share eventually passes to those you wish to benefit (for example your children) in the event of your surviving partner marrying/remarrying or making a new will.

Life interest trusts (interest in possession)
A life interest trust can be useful for individuals or couples who wish to protect their estates for future generations. The purpose of a life interest trust in your will is to appoint a person to benefit from the income generated from your investments, and to live in the property you own, perhaps to provide continued financial support to a surviving spouse or children, whilst protecting the capital for your chosen beneficiaries or future generations.

Discretionary trusts
A discretionary trust involves the appointment of trustees to manage assets held on trust on behalf of a number of potential beneficiaries, with the ultimate decision as to who of those beneficiaries should benefit, and how, in the hands of the trustees. This is another method of potentially safeguarding assets for future generations. It can assist in the slow release of assets. If, for example, a beneficiary of your will has a disability or is vulnerable, a discretionary trust may be useful as the arrangement can enable their needs to be met from the assets in your estate, without giving them an absolute entitlement. Discretionary trusts are also sometimes useful as part of a tax planning strategy.

What is a codicil?
 

A codicil is a supplemental document to a will which makes minor alterations but leaves the rest of the will intact.

There is no limit on how many codicils can be added to a will, but they are only suitable for very straightforward amendments to a will. If a complicated change is involved, we normally advise that it is better to make a new will.

Should co-habiting couples make wills?
 

Many people believe that if they have been living with a partner for a number of years they have become “common law husband and wife” and as a result have the same rights as married couples.

Contrary to this commonly held belief, co-habiting couples do not have equal inheritance rights to married couples (see our guide to the intestacy provisions). In fact, a co-habiting partner has no automatic entitlement from their partner’s estate at all.

What will happen to my will if I get married or divorced?
 

Unless your will is made specifically in contemplation of a marriage, it will be automatically revoked upon you getting married. This will have the effect of you being intestate and your estate passing by way of the intestacy provisions. Our guide to the intestacy provisions is here:

Intestacy rules flowchart


If you get divorced then, whilst your will will subsist, any gift to your spouse will fail and they will be treated as having pre-deceased you. Depending on the drafting of your will, this could lead to your estate passing in a way that you might not expect and may even result in some or all of your estate passing via the intestacy provisions, notwithstanding the fact that you have a valid will. This is known as your estate being ‘partially intestate’.

Quotes

Matthew Evans has a 'genuine commitment to excellence'; he heads the firm's overarching wealth management group and is predominantly focused on handling contentious matters including proprietary estoppel cases, an area which he has developed a leading reputation as a result of handling some landmark cases - including most notably acting for the claimant in the much vaunted Davies v Davies litigation.

The Legal 500

Quotes

Clients describe her as "very professional, dedicated and focused" adding: "She is incredibly organised and diligent. She is very good at processing work and making sure everything is done to a high level".

Chambers & Partners UK

Business news, knowledge and insight