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Do I need to have a will if I am buying a house or remortgaging?

Posted 23/05/2024 by Robyn Hall
family eating at dining table

This may come as a surprise, but when it comes to buying a house for the first-time or whether you’re moving home or simply remortgaging, having a will in place isn’t a legal requirement.

However, buying a house or remortgaging is a significant life event that often coincides with other major life changes making it a good time to review or create a will to reflect your current situation and intentions.

Why a will is a good idea

Let’s take a look at the basics. Wills are always associated with death and dying but it isn’t some scary piece of paper. It’s a basic legal document that outlines how your assets, your estate, should be distributed once you’re no longer here.

And if you have children, it also gives you the opportunity to say who you would like to look after them in the event of your death.

According to the Society of Will Writers, a non-profit making self regulatory organisation, this is particularly important in the case of single parent families or unmarried parents living together.

“A valid will nominating guardians is invaluable in such cases,” it says. “If no one knows what you would have wanted, the Court will decide on the future of your children, and it may not be what you or your children would have wished.”

Having a will in place can also help minimise family disputes that may arise. Clear instructions in a will can help prevent disputes amongst family members and other potential beneficiaries.

And it can also help to plan for and potentially reduce inheritance tax liabilities, ensuring more of the estate goes to the beneficiaries.

Without it your estate will be subject to the rules of intestacy, which may not align with your wishes.

Creating a will

To make a legally binding will you’ll need to be over 18 years old and be of sound mind. And while there’s a range of DIY options to create your own will it’s more often than not advisable to consult a solicitor or professional will writer to ensure that the will is legally valid and covers all necessary aspects.

The will should clearly list all of your assets and beneficiaries, detailing all significant assets and specifying the beneficiaries for each.

You’ll also need to appoint reliable executors and guardians and ensure they are willing to take on these roles.

Finally, the will must be signed by yourself and witnessed by two people who are not beneficiaries.

Remember, it’s important to keep your will regularly updated - especially after major life events such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child or significant changes in your circumstances.

Buying a house or remortgaging

When buying a house or remortgaging it’s worthwhile considering ownership structure – the way you own your property (joint tenants vs. tenants in common) can affect what happens to the property if you pass away.

For example, in the case of joint tenants the property automatically passes to the surviving owner.

If it’s a case of tenants in common then each owner’s share is treated as part of their estate and can be distributed according to their will.

Our simple will Jargon Buster

Testator: The person who creates the will.

Beneficiaries: The people or organisations who will receive the assets from the estate. This can include family members, friends, charities or other organisations.

Executors: Individuals appointed by the testator to carry out the instructions in the will. Executors are responsible for managing the estate, paying debts and taxes, and distributing assets to beneficiaries.

Guardians: If the testator has minor children, the will can name guardians to take care of them if the testator dies.

Assets and Bequests: The will specifies which assets (property, money, personal belongings and such) go to which beneficiaries. Bequests can be specific items or amounts of money, or a portion of the estate.

Witnesses: For a will to be valid, it must be signed in the presence of at least two witnesses who are not beneficiaries or the spouse/civil partner of a beneficiary.

Your initial mortgage appointment is without obligation. We normally charge a fee for our services; however, it is payable only on the submission of your mortgage application. The fee will depend on your circumstances but our standard fee is £549. Complex cases usually attract a higher fee. We will discuss and agree the fee with you prior to submitting any mortgage application.

Please be aware that the information provided within these archives has been pre-published, as of the date published on each article. The information contained within, including references to taxation, legislation, regulation, or any other issues or concerns may no longer apply.

Robyn Hall

UK Property and Finance Expert

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