While it’s important to have a will, writing one is a process that many people find incredibly daunting. At Beecham Peacock, we can work with you to simplify the process and ensure that you have made adequate arrangements for your kin once you have passed. We can also help you to decide what to do after somebody has died, even in instances when circumstances are complicated.
What Is A Will?
A will is a legal document that instructs people how to handle your finances and assets once you have passed away. It will also determine what happens to any minor children (under 18) or dependent adult children by naming a chosen guardian for them. Preparing a will can ensure that your assets will be left to the right people, whether these items are valuable or of sentimental value. A will can also allow you to transfer business assets and investments or highlight if you wish to make a charitable donation.
Why Do I Need A Will?
Learning how to write a will is important for a number of reasons. Many people may feel the weight of planning for the future, but a will gives you a sense of relief that your loved ones will be taken care of when you are gone. It can also help to dissipate any tension that may be present among family members who wish to possess valuable or sentimental items that you currently own. By creating a will, you will be making the grieving process easier for your family.
Step One: Naming an Executor
An executor is the person who will be responsible for ensuring that those named in your will receive what they have been promised. This person will also pay any taxes or outstanding debts on your behalf. It is recommended that you choose a close family member or a responsible friend or a professional. Dealing with the administration of an estate can be a lengthy and complicated process and for complex estates people often provide compensation for their chosen executor. You can appoint as many executors as you wish but only four will be able to apply for probate (if required), and so we usually recommend that you appoint a maximum of four people.
Step Two: Naming a Guardian
If you have children under 18 or dependent adult children, this is arguably the most important step in the will writing process. Naming your guardian means naming the person who will raise your children if you die. If you’re married, this is usually your spouse and many people who are divorced will name their ex-spouse as guardian. However, if you have neither of these, it is important to consider all of your options. Choosing a guardian can be difficult, but first and foremost you must take your child’s welfare into account. Many people also choose to name a second guardian in the case that their first choice cannot serve.
Step Three: Naming Beneficiaries
Who do you want to receive your property and assets when you die? Your beneficiaries can be anyone including your spouse, your children, your siblings and even pets and institutions. You can choose to divide your assets or leave everything to one person. This process is entirely up to you. It is important to state in your will if you specifically do not want a certain person to receive anything.
Step Four: Correctly Executing your Will
At this stage, you will have decided on your executor(s), your guardian and your beneficiaries. However, your will is not legally valid until it has been signed, and your signature has been witnessed. You must sign the will in the presence of two people, who then each sign as a witness. Your witnesses should be 18 years old or over, and must not be a named beneficiary under the will, or married to a named beneficiary.
Step Five: Keeping Your Will Safe
Now that your will is legally valid, you need to ensure that you store it in a place that is both safe and easily accessible. You should let your executor(s) and loved ones know the location of your will so that they don’t have to look for it when the time comes, in a time that they will already be grieving.
No matter what your circumstances, the team of probate solicitors at Beecham Peacock can offer sympathetic, friendly and professional advice on will writing, and estate administration. Get in touch with us today on 0191 232 3048.