How To Make A Will
A Will is one of the most important documents you’ll have to prepare in your life - and can affect your friends, family, and loved ones once you pass away. But what exactly is a Will? Why make a Will? And more importantly, how do you make a Will?
Read on to learn more about the Will-making process, from deciding on your executors to physically writing your Will.
What is a Will?
A Will is also known as a Last Will and Testament. It is a legal document that states how you’re going to manage your affairs (assets and finances) after your death. As well as your assets and finances, a Will can include your funeral arrangements, property distribution, children arrangements (who will become guardian), and much more.
Wills date back to Ancient Roman times - they were created as a way to provide instructions after a person died. The idea of a Will has stood the test of time and is still as relevant as ever in 2022.
Why Make a Will?
Making a Will is an important step to take, regardless of whether you have much money or many assets.
A Will states how your belongings will be divided and dealt with and can give you peace of mind knowing that your final wishes will be heard. It is also an effective way of protecting your assets, your heirs, and your spouse after the event of your death.
Outlining your final wishes and how you want your assets and finances to be dealt with in a legal document can prevent others from stepping in or making claims on your property.
There are also tax benefits to creating a Will - you may be able to reduce the amount of tax on any inheritance by creating a Will.
If you aren’t married or in a civil partnership, your partner will not be able to inherit your assets if you haven’t completed a Will - so if you want some of your assets to go to your partner, you need to include the request in your Will.
Likewise, if you have children, you should consider making a Will so you can have peace of mind knowing that you have made arrangements in the case of your death.
You should also update your Will if your circumstances change - for example, if you separate from your partner or if your assets have changed.
How to Make a Will
Before writing your Will, you should value your estate. This involves creating a list of your assets, as well as your debts where relevant. This can include the property you own, any vehicles, savings, pension funds, insurance, as well as jewellery and other personal belongings.
Choose Your Executors
Then, you should choose who your executors will be. Executors are people assigned to dealing with and distributing your estate once you have died. Be sure to choose the people you appoint as the executors of your Will carefully, as it can be a big responsibility and involve a lot of paperwork.
You should also ensure that the people you appoint are willing to be the executors of your will. Be sure to let them know where they can find your important documents - for example, passwords, insurance policies, and your Will.
Choose Your Beneficiaries
As well as appointing who will be the executors of your Will, you should also decide who will inherit your assets - the beneficiaries. Many people decide to name ‘backup’ or alternate beneficiaries in case the first people you choose to inherit your assets or finances die before you.
Record Your Assets
You’ll need to include a list of your assets as well as your debt. This could include any homes or land you own, stocks, heirlooms, bank accounts, as well as mortgages, loans, and personal debts.
If you own something with somebody else (e.g 50% of a property), then you can only list your share of the property. If you have debts, then this will carry on to the beneficiaries (unless they are covered by your other assets). Be sure to inform your beneficiaries of any debts so they can plan ahead for this.
Writing Your Will
Writing a Will is often considered the most difficult part of the Will process. A solicitor can give you all the advice you need when writing a Will - to learn more about using a solicitor or a lawyer to make a Will, scroll down to ‘Using a Solicitor to Make a Will’.
There are a variety of ways that you can write a Will. Many people choose to work with a professional Will writer - however, they aren’t qualified solicitors and aren’t always regulated. If you plan on using a professional Will writer, we recommend that you check that they are a member of the Institute of Professional Willwriters.
Many people also choose to write their Will through their bank. In 2022, many banks offer Will writing services and can offer you advice when it comes to planning your estate. If this is something you’re interested in, you can contact your local branch to book an appointment. However, this can be costly.
Some charities can help you write a Will as a way of encouraging people to donate some funds to charities when they die. However, it’s entirely possible to create a Will yourself, as long as you ensure that the Will is valid. As Wills are legal documents, they need to be written correctly and signed in the presence of independent witnesses - which is why it may be best to receive advice from a solicitor.
Using a Solicitor to Make a Will
It’s usually best to receive advice from a Wills and Probate Solicitor. If you’re looking for advice on creating a Will, our dedicated Bell Lamb & Joynson Wills and Probate Solicitors can help.
Although we always recommend that you liaise with a solicitor when making your Will, it’s especially advisable to use a Wills and Probate Solicitor if you expect that multiple family members may make a claim on your Will (e.g an ex-spouse). Likewise, if you share property with somebody that you’re not married to or you’re not in a civil partnership with, a solicitor can help you deal with the legalities involved when creating a Will.
If you don’t reside in the UK on a permanent basis or you own property overseas, a solicitor can help to streamline the process. The same applies if there is business involved. Contact our dedicated Wills and Probate team at Bell Lamb & Joynson today to learn more about how we can help you.