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Should I Make A Will When I Buy A House?

01 Jul 2021

Buying a new home can be an exciting and busy time and understandably your focus is on the conveyancing process, addressing all the questions which pop up about your new property and arranging your move. However, with any change in your personal circumstances, you should also ask yourself when buying a home whether you need to make a Will or if your existing Will is still fit for purpose.

So, do you need to make a Will when you buy a new property? Whilst the short answer is no – a Will isn’t a legal requirement to buy property – it is a very sensible thing to put in place!

Why make a Will when you buy a property?

A Will allows you to control and provide certainty about what will happen to any assets, including the property you own when you die, ensuring that your assets pass to others in accordance with your wishes. For most of us, our property is our most valuable asset, and so it is sensible to think and plan carefully what we would want to happen to it when we die. Without a Will, the Intestacy Rules apply and those you wish to benefit may not be eligible. This is particularly true in the case of an unmarried partner who has no automatic entitlement under the Intestacy Rules.

If you are buying a property in your sole name but someone else resides with you – perhaps a partner or elderly relative- you may need to consider what provision you wish to make for them or what rights of occupation you would like them to enjoy following your death to protect their future.

You should also consider your purchase in the context of the overall value of your assets and consider making a Will to mitigate the impact of Inheritance Tax and any future care home fees.
In a nutshell, don’t leave all these decisions and effects to chance and make a Will to ensure what you want to happen with your most valuable asset on your death, to give both you and your loved one’s peace of mind.

Does making a Will affect the conveyancing process?

The answer to this is No – it will not interfere with your purchase. However, if you are buying a property with someone else, your conveyancer will enquire how you intend to own that property with them – as Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common- to register your property appropriately at the Land Registry on completion of your purchase.

If you opt to be joint tenants, this means that you own the property with your co-owner jointly and severally. On your death, the entire property therefore passes in accordance with the ‘survivorship principle’ such that on the death of the first owner, the survivor continues to own the whole property themselves – any interest the deceased has in the property doesn’t pass in accordance with their Will. This may not be what you intend if you want others to benefit from your interest in the property – perhaps children from another relationship.

If you opt to be Tenants in Common, you own the property jointly but in expressed shares – 50/50 or perhaps another percentage split depending on your contributions to the purchase. In that event, the deceased’s share passes in accordance with the wishes expressed in their Will or the Intestacy Rules. It is therefore important to consider what would happen to your share on death. It may be that you want to provide your co-owner with continued rights of occupation or benefit of income from the property during their lifetime, but ultimately for your share in the property to pass to someone else when their life interest ends. A Will with a life interest trust can achieve this.

It is therefore extremely important that the type of property ownership is considered in the context of your Estate planning and that the ownership of a property is compatible with your Will. Consequently, it makes sense to purchase your home and review/make your Will simultaneously to ensure all your legal affairs are in order and your property ownership and Estate planning are joined up correctly.

If you are moving home, you own property but do not have a Will, or made a Will some time ago and perhaps moved without reviewing or updating it, why not ask us to assist you to prepare/review your Will. Our Consultant Solicitor Kerry Wigg is offering 10% DISCOUNT on her usual fixed fees for Wills throughout July and August 2021!

Written by Kerry Wigg

Kerry joined Richard Nelson LLP in 2020 as a consultant solicitor specialising in wills and probate. Kerry has had a number of previous roles, including Head of Litigation at a high street firm and Partner and branch manager at a successful start-up practice.

Read more about Kerry Wigg

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