Why It Is Important To Make A Will
It is important to write a will for many reasons. Lets say you were to pass away without a will, there are certain rules that dictate how your money, property, and possessions should be allocated (these are known as the laws of intestacy). This may not be the way you wanted those to be distributed, therefore making a will allows you to decide where and who your assets go to. If you and your partner are unmarried you cannot inherit from each other, unless there is a will in place. So, the death of a partner may cause serious financial problems for the remaining partner. If you have children, you need to make a will so that arrangements can be made for them if one or both parents were to pass away.
Making a will may reduce the amount of inheritance tax that will have to be paid. If circumstances change, it is important to make a will/edit your existing will. For example, if you and a partner separate, you might want to alter you existing will so that your assets do not go to them. It is important to remember that if you get divorced it doesn’t invalidate your will, so you might want to get this changed. However, if unchanged, getting remarried invalidates your will and you will need to get a new one written.
What should be included in a will
A few things need to be considered when thinking about what you want included in your will. You will need to think about how much money, what property, and what possessions you would like to be distributed. You need to consider who you would like to benefit from your will, you should make a list of all the people you would like to leave your money or possessions to (these are called beneficiaries). You need to also think about if you would like to leave any money to charity (If you leave 10% or more of your money to charity, you can benefit in a reduction of inheritance tax). If you have children under the age of 18, you need to include who is going to look after them if you were to pass away. You will need to appoint executor(s) to your will.
An executor is the person that is going to sort out your estate and carry our your wishes that are written into you will. They will have to collect together all of the assets within the estate, deal with the paperwork, and pay all of the debts, taxes, funeral, and administration costs out of the money in the estate. They will also need to pay out the gifts and transfer any property to your chosen beneficiaries. You do not need to appoint more than 1 executor for you will; however, it is advisable to appoint more. Usually 2 executors are appointed, however, up to 4 executors can take on responsibility for administering the will after death.
Executors appointed are most commonly;
- Relatives or friends
- Solicitors or accountants
- Banks or Public Trustee (If no one else is able/willing to act)
It is important to choose your executors with great care, as their job involves a great deal of responsibility and a large amount of work. Before appointing someone, you need to speak to them to see if they are willing to take on the responsibility. If you appoint someone who is not willing to be an executor, they have the right to refuse. If an executor of your will passes away, any other surviving executor(s) can deal with the estate. However, if there are no surviving executors, legal action should be sought.
Requirements for a valid will
In order for a will to be valid, these requirements need to be met;
- You must be over the age of 18
- The will must be made voluntarily, without pressure from anyone else
- You must have full mental capacity, meaning you are aware of the nature of the document being written or signed, and are aware of any property and the identity of the people who may inherit it
- The will must be in writing
- Must be signed by you, in the presence of two witness, who must also sign the will in the presence of yourself
A witness or a married partner of the witness cannot benefit from the will. If the witness is a beneficiary, the will can still be valid, however, the beneficiary will not be able to inherit under the will. Although having your will dated when signed is not a legal requirement, it is advisable to ensure the date is included. As soon as the will is signed by you and your witnesses, the will is complete. If you make a will that is not legally valid, on your death you estate will be shared out under certain rules, and not according to your wishes in your will.
Where to keep your will
Once you have you will made, you need to keep it in a safe place, and you need to make sure no other documents are attached to it. You can keep your will at home, or you can leave it with us. We ensure that your will is stored safely and securely. You will receive a copy of your will also.
Here at Wills & Trust, we can help you with everything you need to know about wills. We have a team of specialist professionals who will be able to assit.
If you would like more information, or like to speak to one of us, don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can find all our details on our Contact Page