Last will and testament

Top tips for writing a will

No-one really wants to plan and write a will. Here are ten top tips which should help to explain why it’s important and what you need to do.

1. Make the time to write a will

It’s so easy to put off writing a will. The fact that one in three people die without having ever written a will is proof enough.

Not writing a will can cause financial worry and family disagreements for loved ones. If you take the time to write a will you can make provisions for those you care about.

2. A will is for everyone

If you die without having made a will this is called dying intestate. It is then the intestacy rules that determine who gets what. This could mean that those closest to you or a charity you want to support miss out. It could also mean that the tax man gets a large chunk of your money.

3. Use a professional

Make sure you choose who draws up your will wisely. It is recommended that you use a professional who is qualified and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Using a solicitor means that you will receive advice about how to make sure your wishes are met. If there are inheritance tax implications these can be discussed and appropriate measures put into place.

If, for any reason the firm of solicitors stops trading, you are automatically covered and your will will be transferred to another solicitor.

DIY will kits are available and seem like a cheaper option. If mistakes are made though there is no come back. The result may be that the estate is liable for a larger tax bill and may not be distributed to the beneficiaries you chose.

4. Choose your executors well

Executors will deal with your estate in the way you have instructed following your death.

It can be a very demanding job. Always ask first.

If you want your spouse to be an executor we recommend that you do not appoint them as the sole executor.

In the event that you both die together you need to have a substitute executor in place.

5. Appoint guardians

For those with children writing a will allows you to make a choice about who will care for your children in the event of you dying.

If you don’t appoint a suitable adult then the court will appoint a guardian.

Unmarried couples need to appoint each other as the guardian.

6. Decide who you want to get what, and     when

Planning who will get what should help to avoid disputes and arguments.

By being clear about what your wishes are you should make it easier for those you leave behind to cope with your death.

If you don’t have anyone to leave your estate to you can still decide where you want it to go e.g. a charity, a club, a park bench.

You can also decide about funeral arrangements e.g. the songs you want to be played.

7. Ensure your will is signed

To make sure your will is valid your signature must be witnessed by two independent adults (over the age of 18). They must sign the will but do not need to know what you have decided to do with your estate.

A beneficiary cannot benefit from a will they have witnessed. Always make sure that the people who witness your will are not going to receive anything under the will.

8. Take care of your will

Place your will in a safe place. A fireproof box is recommended if you are keeping it at home. make sure that your executors know where to find it. You can also choose to leave your will with your solicitors but always keep a copy. We don’t recommend that you keep it somewhere where the executor would need probate to access it e.g. a bank safe deposit box.

9. If your circumstances change make sure you review you will

If your personal circumstances change then you need to review your will as some parts of it may become invalid. These might include:

* marriage

* divorce or separation

* property purchase

* children.

10. Make sure your executor/s know where to find your will

Always make sure that your executors know where you keep your will. Whether that is at home or with your solicitors.

If you need straightforward, down to earth advice about writing or updating a will then you can contact us on 01535 662644.