Are you putting off writing a will?
Wednesday 26th April
It’s one of those things we say we should do but always seems to get pushed down the priority list. It is perhaps even seen as a morbid exercise, but as depressing as it may seem, it’s important to make arrangements for when we are not here anymore.
As I said, it really is quite important to make a will and probably more so for those who are left to look after your estate, or to look at it in a more cynical way, it’s a way of making provisions to stop what you have worked hard for all your life ending up in the hands of the government or an unwanted family member.
Why it’s important to make a will:
• If you die without a will, there are certain rules about how your estate will be allocated. These rules may not meet your wishes.
• Unmarried partners and those who have not registered a civil partnership cannot legally inherit from each other unless there is a will in place.
• If you have children, you need a will to make arrangements for them should they lose both parents.
• If your circumstances change, such as a divorce or a family rift, it is paramount that you make a will to ensure that your estate is distributed according to your wishes. Writing a will can ensure that any previous arrangements made will be invalid.
If you have any doubts about if you should make a will then it is best to consult a solicitor. You can find advice on how to do this by visiting the citizens advice website (www.citizensadvice.org.uk)
Do I need to use a solicitor?
A will does not need to be drawn up or witnessed by a solicitor. You can find help online and do it yourself. You can buy will packs to make the process a easier. You can also visit the government website who offer advice (www.gov.uk/make-will)
I would advise that it is prudent to have a solicitor check a will you have made to make sure it will work as you want it to and there are not any mistakes. Any mistakes, can cause problems after your death and could be a cost to those sorting out your estate.
Common mistakes making a will:
• Not being aware of the formal requirements and rules needed to make a will legally valid
• Not taking into account of all the money and property that will be left.
• Failing to factor in that a beneficiary may die before the person making the will.
• Changing the will. If amendments are made and are not signed and witnessed, they are invalid.
• Being unaware of the effect of marriage, a registered civil partnership, divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership on a will.
When it is particularly advisable to use a solicitor
Generally it is advisable to use a solicitor to make a will, but especially when:
• You share a property with someone who is not your husband, wife or civil partner.
• You need to make provisions for someone unable to care for themselves
• You have family members who may make a claim on the will.
• Complications such as you own overseas property or a business.
Always remember that a solicitor will charge for their services in drawing up or checking a will.
However you do it, making a will is important, not just for you, but for those who will be dealing with your estate whilst coming to terms with the loss of a loved one.
By Graham Ambler