A quick guide to making a Will
Though it may be tempting to delay making a Will until a later date, it’s essential if you want to ensure your estate is distributed among your beneficiaries without complications. Here, we take a look at the six basic steps involved in making a Will and why it’s a good idea to seek professional legal assistance when doing so.
The contents of your Will
The first step in creating a Will is to consider what assets you have to distribute among family and friends. This will involve looking at both your assets and debts to ensure that you have an understanding of what you have to leave to your beneficiaries.
The distribution of those contents
Having established what assets, including personal belongings, you have to pass on to beneficiaries, you then need to determine how these assets will be distributed. Most people writing their Will have a basic idea then of how they want to divide their estate and to whom certain assets will go, which can then be discussed with your legal advisor.
Choosing an executor
The executor of a Will is the individual who ensures that the terms of the Will are carried out to ensure it fits your needs and is as IHT efficient as possible, in accordance with your written wishes. The executor should be someone who is willing to assume the role upon your death and that will carry out the role in an impartial manner. They can be family members, a close friend, or a legal representative.
Your children and your Will
If you have children who are still relatively young, there are a number of considerations you may want to make when writing your Will. First, it may be necessary to appoint a guardian for your children. The guardian would be responsible for their care should something happen to both parents.
Second, if your children are not of a suitable age to be made fully responsible for their inheritance, it may be a good idea to appoint someone to manage it for them until they reach an agreed age by setting up a trust fund to be accessed by the child at a certain age (usually at age 18 or 21). You can also make special provision for disabled children.
Witnessing the Will
The final step in writing an official Will is having it witnessed correctly. To be valid, all Wills must be signed and this process must be witnessed by two individuals. The Will must be signed voluntarily, without any coercion from another person, you must also be in a sound mental state and understand the consequences of your actions.
Making the most of professional legal advice
Though it is possible to write a will without any professional legal advice, it is not advisable to do so. It may save you a fee in the short-term, but it could result in a number of long-term problems that could prove costly to those you have chosen to inherit your estate.
The benefits of obtaining professional legal advice include:
A smooth and complication-free probate process. If a Will is not checked over by a legal professional, there’s a greater likelihood that problems may occur when it comes to the point that the directions of the Will are carried out.
A Will that’s been created by a professional legal advisor offers peace of mind. You can rest assured that it is correctly drafted and valid.
Professional legal advisors will help you make the most of your estate. This is particularly important if the estate is liable to pay inheritance tax or has assets which may complicate matters, such as overseas property.
Will writing can involve some fairly complex legal concepts. For instance, assets left to young children can be protected until they’re of age in a number of different ways, including trusts. Each of these operate in a different way and have their own advantages and disadvantages. A legal professional will be able to advise you as to which is most appropriate for your specific circumstances.
Some life events such as marriage, divorce and separation which would prompt major changes, will require making a new Will. Minor changes to a Will can be covered by a codicil (a legally binding amendment), however the terms of the existing Will should be fully reviewed as part of the process of preparing codicil.
If you would like further information concerning Will writing, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a legal expert that specialises in Wills and Probate.
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