Buying a house is probably the biggest financial commitment a person will make in their lifetime. A massive amount of effort goes into this process, from saving up for a deposit, viewing properties, making offers, negotiating an agreement, arranging a mortgage, choosing a solicitor, arranging a completion date, booking a removal van before, finally, moving in. At this point most people would be forgiven for believing that they had nothing more to do other than settle in their new property.
However, we at Kirkham Legal always advise our clients that they should, certainly at this point if not before, give serious consideration to the preparation of a will and, if your circumstances dictate, a Lasting Power of Attorney.
Your property is likely to be your most valuable asset so it would make sense for you to make provision as to who would benefit from that property in the event of your untimely death. A will is a relatively inexpensive (certainly when compared to the costs of buying a house) document to have prepared, and can be done quickly. As well as ensuring that your wishes in respect of your house are complied with, your will can appoint your chosen executors to sort out your estate (and personal affairs), gifts and legacies can be made to your family, friends and/or charity, and provision can be made for substitute beneficiaries in the event that one of your chosen beneficiaries dies before you.
How you deal with a property in a will is a matter for you, and will obviously depend on your personal circumstances and wishes. We can advise you of your options, so that you can then make an informed decision. In the most straightforward and common scenario, a husband or a wife will leave their estate (which includes the house) to their spouse, but even then a good will would make provision as to what would happen upon the death of the survivor of the couple. A more complicated situation arises where a couple (possibly a husband and wife who have been married before, or an unmarried couple) do not want the house to pass automatically to the other joint owner on the death of the first, but do however want the survivor to be able to live in the house for the rest of their life. In this situation, a will including a “life interest” provision in respect of the house should be prepared. As stated, a will should respect your personal wishes and take into account your personal circumstances, so this is why we always have face to face meetings with our clients so as to ensure you receive bespoke advice.
We also suggest that all of our property owning clients should consider the preparation of a Lasting Power of Attorney, so as to ensure that you have appointed someone you trust (“the Attorney”) to deal with your financial affairs, and therefore your house, in the eventuality that you are unable, at some time in the future, to manage your own finances. Without this protection, it is likely that considerable expense and delay would arise in resolving issues on your behalf should this eventuality ever arise.
Please feel free to contact our Private Client Team on 0161 393 2299 to discuss any of the points raised above.
Our Practice Licence Number is 11250.