Preparing A Will
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Having a valid will is the only way to ensure that your possessions, property, and financial assets go to the people and causes you care about after you die.
If you die without a will – known as dying “intestate” – your family may have to go through the complicated and arduous process of probate. Without a will, someone will have to apply to administrate your estate – in itself a complex task – and will then be compelled to divide your assets according to the statutory rules of intestacy. These rigid rules dictate how your estate is distributed and can be extremely difficult to contest, meaning your estate may not go to the people you intend.
If you and your partner are not married, for example, then they have no automatic right to inherit anything you leave behind, even if you have children together or have been cohabiting for a long time.
Steps To Making A Will
It is extremely important therefore to have a valid and up to date will at all times. Fortunately, making a will is relatively simple, especially if you seek the help of a Solicitor experienced in this area of law. The steps to making a will are:
- Calculating the value of your estate, by drawing up a list of all of your assets as well as any debts
- Deciding how you want to divide your estate, including whether you want to gift any specific possessions to certain people
- Deciding whether you want to leave any donations to charities, educational institutions or other organisations
- Choosing an executor who will be responsible for administrating your estate
- Writing the will to include all of the above information
- Signing the will in the presence of an independent witness
There are certain conditions that a will must meet for it to be valid. It must be written, signed, and witnessed; and it must state that it revokes any earlier versions. In addition, it is important that the will is clear and unambiguous.
When Should You Update Your Will?
At minimum you should review your will every five years, but in practice it is important to amend your will whenever you experience a significant life event. If you have a child or grandchild, move to a new house or add new assets to your estate, you should change your will to reflect this.
Small amendments to your will can be made with supplementary documents called “codicils”, which must also be signed and witnessed. For larger changes, you should cancel your old will and create a new one.
What We Can Offer You
Our Private Client team are experts in will writing. Regardless of the size or complexity of your estate, we can work with colleagues from across our firm to ensure that your will is clear and valid, and distributes your estate as you intend and in a tax-efficient way. To find out more about how we can help you, please contact a member of our team today.
Our Past Cases
Below are some examples of matters dealt with by our Private Client team in relation to Wills:
- Prepared Wills with trusts to ensure assets are preserved for future family generations and to ensure that assets are managed effectively for vulnerable beneficiaries.
- Advised clients who did not wish to include a particular person in their Will and wished to ensure that clear instructions were left in that regard.