18th July 2020
It’s easy to put off making a last will and testament. Yet when you sit and think about what happens to your money, property, and other assets, you’ll likely want to ensure they are distributed to certain important people in your life and don’t end up improperly divided or worse, property of the state. Without a will, you leave the matter open and your estate will surely not be dispensed as you wish. Why take that chance? Creating a will requires care and consideration, and with the right help from a solicitor can be a much simpler and more streamlined process.
Why Make a Will?
As stated, if you don’t create a will that spells out your desires for the distribution of your assets and possessions, the will may be distributed in a way that you have not approved and specified. Without a legally valid will, rules of intestacy come into effect when you die. The rules designate who can receive distributions from your estate, including married and civil partners and particular close relatives.
Unmarried partners that are not in a civil partnership can’t inherit under the rules of intestacy. This situation can cause disagreements and hurt feelings between your partner and other family members. Even without the partner involved, the loss of a loved one can be overshadowed by a fight over who is entitled to what, and the process usually ends up unfair to certain parties. A will resolves the issue by assigning money and property. While you can’t ensure that no one’s feelings are hurt after you’re gone, you can be assured that your wishes are followed to the letter and have been decided in advance to avoid further disagreement between your loved ones.
It’s important for every adult to make a will, but it’s especially critical if you have children, are a property or business owner, and / or have your own savings, insurance policies, property or investments. It inherently makes life simpler for your loved ones who are already grieving your loss. A will takes away some of the added pressure of sorting out the apportioning of your assets, a complicated and emotionally draining process during a time of grieving. Additionally, a living will can remove the burden of how to respond to medical decisions for you in the case that you are no longer able to speak for yourself.
In a will, you can further define other issues affecting life and the event of your death. Including a life interest trust Will helps you to protect a loved one’s ability to use your assets in a couple ways. It gives your identified party a life interest in your assets or property while they are alive. It allows the person identified in the trust to continue to live in their home or have access to certain assets, which are ring-fenced in this process. Through a life interest trust, considerations for long-term care of a spouse or child can be managed by disallowing the authorities to take all or a portion of your assets to pay for residential care home fees. An amount placed in the trust reserves it for the identified person to pass on to the next beneficiary at the time of death.
A similar scenario can occur when one remarries and has children from a previous marriage; a life interest trust will enables those children to receive the part of the inheritance that’s put in the trust.
How to Write a Will
The idea of writing a will is simple: determine all of your assets and debts to establish an estimated estate value, then decide how and to whom you want to divide your estate. It takes a bit of time to sort out what you want to do and to get it into the proper language, but this process is much easier and more understandable (not to mention ironclad) when choosing to go with a solicitor.
For your will, your estate value includes your home and any property you own, all savings accounts and bonds, insurance, pension funds with a lump sum death benefit, investments, vehicles, and personal items that have value. Subtract your debts such as mortgages, loans, credit card balances, and other money owed. The result represents your estate value.
Who do you want to benefit from your estate upon your passing? Most people have a spouse, partner, children, and other family members on their list of beneficiaries. Some people want a portion of their will to be donated to a designated charity. Specific items or amounts can be designated to named people, or money can be left to one person to divide among a group, for example, all the children in a family.
In your will, you will need to name an executor. It’s an important role that involves some work. How much depends on how large and complicated your estate is. Ask the person you’ll name if they’re willing to be your executor as some people are very willing to help while others don’t want the responsibility.
For legal reasons, you must sign and date your will in front of independent witnesses who must also sign and date it. Store it in a safe place such as a home safe, with your solicitor, or in a bank safety deposit box. Don’t attach any other papers to the will document. Notify your executor of your will location and make sure he or she will have access to it. You might want to make a duplicate; just know that these documents must be accounted for at all times.
When you put a will together, review the current regulations regarding wills and trusts. You want to ensure that your loved ones, charities, and other designees receive assets according to your expressed wishes. You can write your own will, but there are multiple elements to it that must be written and signed appropriately. The same goes with professional will writers, nonprofit groups and banks that offer will writing assistance. If it’s not done correctly, the will may not be legally valid.
It’s best to consult an experienced solicitor, more specifically one that’s a specialist in wills and lasting power of attorney, to assist with your will. If you want a solicitor that emphasizes the care, respect and attention that clients deserve, contact Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors in Woodley, and rest assured that your family and your estate will be attended to properly.