Making a Will is a serious affair. When the Will comes into effect it will determine what happens to your property and assets on your death, and a badly drawn Will can cause a lot of misery to your loved ones. For this reason, it is important that your Will is drafted by a specialist and is kept up to date both with your wishes and the latest legal developments.
What Is a Will?
A Will is a document that contains directions as to the distribution of your property and assets after you die, as well as your wishes in relation to the care of your dependants. It is a legal document to help your family and loved ones settle your estate after you are gone.
If you fail to prepare a Will, you have no say in how your estate is dealt with and your assets could ultimately pass to the Crown.
Why is it important to have a Will in place?
- To ensure that your chosen loved ones inherit your estate
- To ensure that trustworthy people are distributing your estate and following your wishes
- So that money held in trust for children is held by suitable trustees
- To prevent claims against your estate from ex-spouses, or estranged children or other family whom you do not wish to benefit from your estate
- To ensure that for inheritance tax purposes your Will is structured in the most tax efficient manner
Common excuses not to complete your Will
- I am far too young to make a Will – this is probably the most common reason, but if you are over 18, you are old enough to make a Will
- I am sure that there would not be a problem and my loved ones can sort it out themselves – unfortunately this is not always the case; and in high -value estates in particular it is rarely dealt with conflict free
- I have nothing to leave – although you may believe this to be the case, when life assurance policies and work death-in-service benefits are accounted for, it is likely you have more to leave than you think. You may also need to consider other non-monetary arrangements, such as guardians to your children after your death
- I do not want to tempt fate – there is far greater risk in not having a professionally drafted Will which accurately outlines your intentions and your wishes
- It is too complicated – this need not be the case if you instruct a specialist legal professional to support you with this process
- It is too expensive – when you consider that a Will potentially determines the distribution of hundreds of thousands of pounds on your death, as well as who will look after your children, it should be viewed as money well spent. It actually costs less than some visits to the dentists – and is certainly less painful! The truth is that if you do make a Will, you can avoid problems which may arise after your death, and save your family and friends money
Making a Will Using a Solicitor
Using a professional and experienced solicitor can ensure that your Will is accurate and your wishes are clear, especially if you have several beneficiaries.
It is important to use a solicitor when:
- You share property with someone who is not your wife or husband
- You have a dependant who cannot care for themselves
- Several family members may make a claim on the will
- You own property or business overseas
- Your permanent home is not in the UK
When using a solicitor, you will need to provide certain information, such as:
- Details as to the assets you want to include in your will
- Details of who should have these assets following your death
- Any other wishes including funeral plans etc.
- Details of any children and family members who are not biologically yours