Preparing a Will is a lot easier than you think and provides great peace of mind. Do you have a reason not to?
No one likes to think about death, and the prospect of planning what will happen to your assets when you pass is often an intimidating task.
A Will allows you to decide what happens to your personal property and finances after your death, giving clear direction and guidance to your loved ones in a time of grief.
It’s one of the most important arrangements you can make, so it’s extremely important that it is done correctly to ensure it is legally binding.
Why should I write a Will?
Failing to leave a Will can be a massive risk, leading to unnecessary expense and time-consuming court procedures, not to mention an increased Inheritance Tax burden.
You will die intestate and the law will determine who will administer your estate and arrange your funeral. The distribution of your assets will become unpredictable and may very well not be what you would wish. Distant relatives may benefit whilst unmarried partners will receive nothing. If no relatives are traced, your estate could even end up being passed on to the government.
Without a Will the law can dictate that life-changing sums of money are inherited at the age of 18. You will also miss the opportunity to nominate guardians to look after your infant children and choose Trustees to look after money for them until they are old enough to receive it responsibly.
What is intestacy?
Intestacy rules divide assets up in a specific order to ensure that any spouses/civil partners or children inherit the bulk of any property, possessions and finances. If there are no spouses/civil partners or children it can pass on to parents, then siblings, then nieces and nephews, etc.
There is no guarantee that loved ones will come into specific property though, making it a worthwhile peace of mind to get a Will drafted.
What do I include?
Your Will must clearly state where you would like all of your assets to go, specifying who you would like your property and finances to end up with.
It is often an idea to calculate the value of your estate so that it can be easily distributed amongst loved ones.
Who should I choose as the executors?
Your Will also appoints the people you would like to act as ‘executors’, ensuring that your estate is shared out as you wish. They will be responsible for handling large sums of money and dealing with tax forms so it is important to appoint people that you can trust. It also appoints Trustees if the Will provides for money or property to be held for any length of time.
It is wise to appoint more than one executor as a fall-back in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to take on the role. If there is a Trust it is almost always necessary to appoint two Trustees
How do I go about making a Will?
A Will must be made in writing, signed by you with your signature witnessed by two others in order to be legally binding.
The witnesses and their relatives must not be mentioned in the Will. If they are then they will not be allowed to receive anything.
A Will is the most comprehensive Deed to transfer property in the Law. Writing an effective Will is riven with pitfalls. It is strongly recommended that you seek professional advice when you make one.
How do I change a will?
You should review your Will every 5 years or after any major life changes which may alter the distribution of assets. For example, marriage will revoke any existing Will you have in place and replace it with an intestacy.
These changes can be made through an official alteration called a codicil, which must be signed and witnessed in the same way as the original Will.
For any larger changes, a new Will should be drafted and signed. The creation of the new Will revokes any previous ones.
Beecham Peacock Solicitors in Newcastle can advise on Wills and Probate issues. Call us on 0191 2323048 or email email@example.com