Considerations when writing a Will
Feb 16, 2015
You are never too young to make a Will – in fact, doing so may give you peace of mind that when you die, those that are left behind will be taken care of according to your wishes.
Writing a Will isn’t morbid but makes sound financial sense – after all, you have worked hard for your home and money. Knowing that everything you own will be passed on to those whom you want to receive it, in the event of your death, is sensible.
What happens if you don’t make a Will?
Sadly, many people assume that that when they die, their partner or children will automatically inherit your estate. And while in some straightforward cases this does happen, all it takes is a child from a previous marriage or the fact that you did not share the property with a spouse or civil partner, for things to get complicated.
For example, Mr and Mrs A were married and had two children. Mr A died without a Will. As the mortgage was in joint names, Mrs A got the house. Mrs A then remarried to a Mr B who was childless.
Mrs A wanted her children to get what they were entitled to upon her death and assumed that ‘the law’ would take care of that. She died without making a Will and the whole of her estate went to Mr B.
When Mr B. then died several years later, without making a Will, the entire estate went to a cousin he hadn’t seen for over 40 years. The children got nothing, despite Mrs A’s confidence that they would.
Still not convinced?
Programmes such as Heir Hunters, where probate detectives try to find distant relatives of people who have died intestate (ie. without making a Will) highlight just how important it is to make a Will – even if you have no relatives that you know of. You may wish to gift your estate to charity or something else.
Wills also allow you to state your wishes in relation to whether you are buried or cremated, too, so your family will not have to make any difficult decisions upon your death.
What do you need to know when writing a Will?
There are two ways you can write a Will:
• Do it yourself – there are several online services offering Will templates, or you can buy a blank Will from a stationery shop
• Use a solicitor or a professional Will writing service.
While some people favour the DIY option, as it works out cheaper than using professional services, there are a number of common mistakes that you could easily make. For example:
• Making the Executor or a beneficiary of your Will also a witness;
• Simply saying that your estate is to be distributed equally among your children – if you have adopted children or god-children, do you want them to be included too?
• Not stipulating that if one your beneficiaries is dead, what happens to their share of their money. Is it passed to their children?
• And so on.
That is why you may wish to consider getting professional help with writing your Will – to make sure that upon your death, your estate is distributed exactly how you want it to be.
To find out more about writing a Will, visit the Government site, AgeUK or our own writing a Will service.