10 Easy Tips for Writing a Will
1. Choose who draws up your will wisely
You can make your own will using a DIY kit available from the local stationers but mistakes are easily made in the process.
Lawyers spend a lot more time, and your money, correcting these Wills as they would writing it for you. Choosing a local trusted Will Writer is a first step.
2. Choose your executors well
Executors are responsible for exercising your estate in accordance with your instructions after you have died. It is a responsible and demanding role, and involves handling large sums of money.
And don't forget to check that the people you choose are happy to take on the role.
3. Appoint a default or substitute executor
If you are married, you will probably want your spouse to be your executor, but do not appoint them as your sole executor.
If there is an eccident ie. a car crash and you both pass away, neither of you would have an executor living. Always appoint a default or substitute executor as a fall-back position just incase.
4. Appoint guardians
If you are the last living parent and you die leaving children under age 18, a guardian will be appointed by the court if you have not specified who this should be in your will.
If you are unmarried but you and your partner have children, you might not even get guardianship of your children.
If an unmarried man dies, his female partner automatically gets guardianship of their children, but if an unmarried woman dies, her male partner does not.
You should appoint each other as guardians in your wills to overcome this problem.
5. Appoint trustworthy trustees
This might sound obvious, but if you are setting up a trust in your will or if your beneficiaries could be aged under 18 when you die, you will need to appoint trustees.
Trustees will be responsible for managing and investing money, or looking after property until it passes to the beneficiaries, so make sure they are people with a good grasp of financial matters.
6. Make specific legacies
If you want to preserve family heirlooms or items of special sentimental value, you should leave these items as a specific legacy to a named beneficiary.
7. Make sure you leave a residual legacy
The 'residue' is what is left over in your estate after you have made any specific legacies. You must choose who this goes to.
If you don't you will create a partial intestacy in your will. This means the small gifts and legacies would pass according to the will, but the residue would be subject to the laws of intestacy.
8. If you are a business owner
One of the most important parts of any business is making sure that you have a Will in place, stating how you wish the business to be administered in the event of death.
Failure to put this in place will result in your business falling under intestacy rules; meaning that your business will be administered according to UK intestacy law, rather than how you may have envisaged or wished for it to be done on behalf of your beneficiaries and family.
9. Sign your will
It's all very well having your will drafted, but if you don't sign it in front of two independent witnesses, it will not be valid.
A witness cannot be anyone mentioned in the will or anyone married to anyone mentioned in the will.
10. Get it stored safely
Once your will has been correctly signed and witnessed, have it stored in a proper safe storage facility. This will protect it from fire, flood, damage, or loss.
Your executors will be provided with a certificate showing them where your will is stored and how to get hold of it if you die. Don't hide your will! It's no good to anyone if it cannot be found after your death.