While you may be inclined to put off thinking about your mortality, taking the time to prepare a well-written will that indicates how you would like your possessions and assets to be distributed after you die is key to avoiding strife among loved ones. Although you are acknowledging you won’t live forever by drawing up a will, leaving behind a record of how you want your personal belongings and money to be allocated is very important.
If you’ve been procrastinating on completing the task, here’s your chance to cross if off your list. Get started and complete your will using these simple steps.
Decide if you want to get help or do-it-yourself
Consider using either a solicitor, or try a reputable online software to help you write your will, rather than opting for a DIY will. Having a conversation with a financial advisor regarding Inheritance Tax planning is a must if your estate is substantial and should take place prior to making a will. The courts are littered with cases where wills have been poorly written saddling heirs with steep legal fees and hefty taxes.
One important thing to note is that if you do not leave a will and have no living relatives your estate will be subject to the Law of Intestacy (England & Wales) and will pass in its entirety to the Crown.
Therefore select your beneficiaries in your will. When you die, the beneficiaries that you nominate will receive your money, assets and other belongings. You probably won’t have to think long about the beneficiaries you designate, but it’s key to keep this information up-to-date if circumstances change.
Choose the executor for your will
This person will be tasked with making sure the wishes in your will are carried out and apply for probate, so choosing someone who is responsible is important. You can have more than one executor so that if one predeceases the other they can carry out your wishes. Remember a bank or a solicitors (if named as executor) can charge between 2 to 4 percent of your estate’s value in fees. If you’re designating a family member or friend, experts indicate they should be compensated, either through an hourly rate or a percentage of the estate’s value as much work can be involved.
Be specific and realistic about who gets what
Don’t be vague in your will. Don’t hope that everyone will know what you want. This can be especially tricky when you’ve had multiple items to be divided.
Other people need to sign the will
You will need two witnesses to sign your will, and remember the witnesses can’t be people who stand to inherit anything from your will. Your witnesses also need to be at least 18 years old. Ideally, they’ll be people who are likely to be still living even if you are not. If something goes wrong, and your will is contested in court, the judge may want to call a witness to testify.
Find a place for your will
Don’t write a will and then put it somewhere it will be forgotten. Make sure someone you trust knows where to find your will. Making a list of all your assets, policy numbers, documents and any other important papers and passwords is a very good idea. Store the original copy somewhere secure like a bank, your solicitors or in a fireproof cabinet at home. You can also register your will at a cost of £30 (inclusive of VAT) with www.nationalwillregister.co.uk who are a endorsed by the Law Society.
Review and update your will every few years
After drawing up your will, you will also want to work on a power of attorney and a living will in case you’re ever incapacitated. It is advisable to update your will, especially after any major life event, such as a marriage, divorce or a birth to ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes. Otherwise, you may find that you’ve left your assets to your ex-spouse, and none of your money and belongings are left to your children.
And finally, once all is in place you will find peace of mind to know your beneficiaries are taken care of how you would wish. You can now get on with the rest of your life!