You’ve finally made your truce with the inevitable and made a decision to write a Will. But you’ve got no clue where to start.
Don’t worry, most Wills begin with a blank page. Yours will too!
We have put together this comprehensive guide for you for the remainder of this daunting task.
Here’s all you need to know about writing a Will and making it legally valid.
What Is A Will?
In most simple terms, a Will is a documentation of your wish regarding how your property and estate will be distributed among your family members after you die. Mostly referred to as a last will and testament, a Will clearly enunciates who your beneficiaries will be and what they’ll get after you die. It also contains provisions for taking care of minor children and their share in the property.
Besides, a Will also contains the name of an executor, i.e. the person who will give effect to your final wishes.
Who Needs A Will?
If you were expecting that only the rich and the famous need a Will, you’re grossly mistaken. In today’s time, when most people have a varied portfolio of financial assets and investments, having a Will is crucial.
If you die “intestate”, the law determines how your assets get distributed. How the law divides your property may hardly be in line with your wishes. That’s why it’s advisable to keep a Will ready while you have the time and sanity.
What Is A Legally Valid Will?
Precisely, the law checks the validity of a Will on two grounds.
Firstly, a Will must be duly drafted. It must be written (or typed), signed by the testator and by competent witnesses.
Secondly, the Will must not be made under duress or coercion. The person making a Will should be of sound mind and aware of what he is doing.
Witnessing A Will
If a Will is not witnessed as per the law requirements, it may not be accepted by the courts. You need to be sure about the following:
- There must be two witnesses.
- The witnesses must be independent persons (not your relatives or beneficiaries under the Will).
- The witnesses must sign the Will in your presence.
Post the Coronavirus pandemic, the law recognizes even those Wills which are witnessed in an open area, through an open door or window, or even over a video call.
Professional Services For Writing A Will
If you’re not very familiar with the laws of inheritance in the UK, you should consider hiring a professional for writing your Will. We cannot emphasise the importance of taking professional advice in this aspect.
Professionals can guide you to tax implications, administrative expenses, and testamentary trusts associated with Wills. You can seek the services of lawyers, banks, dedicated charities and professional will writers.
Writing A Will Online
Wondering if you can make your Will digitally? Yes, it is possible. You make your last will and testament with just a computer or smartphone and secure internet access. Writing a Will can be done with much ease if you choose online professional services.
Making A Will – A Step By Step Guide
Now that you’ve understood the nuances of writing a Will, let’s take you through the process, one step at a time.
- Evaluating Your Assets – Make a detailed list of all your assets and get them valued. Your assets and properties include land and buildings, insurance policies and other financial assets or investments.
Make sure to include digital assets and personal belongings in the list. Some of your collections like jewellery, pieces of art, coins, stamps or vintage furniture may be very valuable and should also be paid attention to.
Don’t forget to enlist your debts and outstanding.
- Decide About The Beneficiaries – Once you have an idea of the value of your holdings and possessions, you can come up with a list of persons you would like to inherit your assets. Besides your family and blood relatives, you can include close friends and carers too.
- Distribution Of Your Estate – With the above details clearly charted out, it will be easy for you to divide your assets among the beneficiaries. The division may be done equally, but that’s not necessary.
- Leave Something To A Charity – You can also leave some funds for a charity or cause you’re passionate about. Make sure you mention all details of the charity clearly, otherwise it may not be possible to identify it at the time of execution of your Will.
- Selecting Executor(s) – You need to name a person (or persons), whom you trust and who will be responsible for the distribution of your assets as per the instructions in your Will.
- Writing A Will – You can choose to write the Will all by yourself, or you can take professional advice to guide you through the process. A professionally prepared Will is less likely to be challenged in court on grounds of validity or clarity.
- Signing Of The Will – The Will must be signed by you in the presence of two witnesses.
- Storing A Will – Many Wills locked in secret at home, end up never being found. If you’ve written a Will, consider saving it in a bank locker, with your solicitor or at a local probate service. Make sure you let the executor know where you’ve kept the Will and how to access it. Also leave instructions with the solicitor or bank etc. regarding handing over of the Will after your death.
- Updating Your Will – The value of your assets may change as time passes, and so may your relations. To ensure that your Will remains relevant, you need to update it from time to time or at least whenever a significant event affecting your Will occurs in your lifetime.
The above information is pretty comprehensive and we believe it will put you on the right foot when it comes to writing your Will. Writing a Will may be time-consuming and expensive, but it’s worth it in every sense.
So what are you waiting for? Get your pen and paper ready and put your wishes in writing today.
Interesting Related Article: “Benefits Of Creating An Estate Plan Before It’s Too Late“