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Guidance On Making A Will

Posted on the 21 November 2014 by Jason Cherrington

penning a will

Making A Last Will & Testament

Making a Will is essential and unless your circumstances change significantly, is something most people only have to do once.

Making a Will puts your mind at rest that when you are finally laid to rest your loved ones, family, friends and future generations are provided for.

By Writing your wishes in a Will you are ensuring your hard earned assets are distributed correctly, preventing unnecessary emotional stress to the people you have left behind.

A large percentage of the UK population have yet to make a Will. We never know whats around the corner so for your own peace of mind you should put the wheels in motion ASAP.

If you have not yet made a Will read on for further guidance on whats involved and what to do next.

Don't Put It Off

None of us like thinking about our own mortality and I am no different, in my experience a large proportion of my clients get in touch to make a Will because they have suffered a recent bereavement.

I can also say that its not unusual for us to create more Will's for clients during the winter months than in the summer months, its not that strange if you think about it, during the summer months we are enjoying the weather looking forward to holidays and fun activities in our spare time, who wants to think about the doom and gloom of dying.

But when the winter months are upon us we travel home from work often seeing a fatal roadside crash with emergency services in attendance or seeing it on the news and at this point we are indeed reminded of our own mortality.

It is human nature to put off doing things we don’t like thinking about and writing a Will is no exception.

Whether intentionally or from a lack of knowledge there are many reasons I have come across for putting off making a Will.

Often people feel that they don't have any assets or wealth to pass on but making a Will is about more than just money and possessions, for example who will look after any children you have if they are still minor children at the time of your death.

Making a Will can seem expensive however the legal costs of dying intestate can be much more than the price of a properly drawn up Will and having a Will in place means your loved ones can access your estate much sooner.

What A Will Does

A Will lays out where you want your money, property and possessions to go after your death along with other wishes relating to children, charities, funeral arrangements and deliberate exclusions from the Will.

If you don’t make a Will, your family will not have a say about where your money and possessions go after you are gone.

Basic Will Structure

Whilst not an exhaustive list a Last Will and Testament will often include the following:

  • Full Name and address of the Testator (the person making the Will)
  • Clause revoking all former Wills
  • Clause appointing Executors / Trustees
  • Clause relating to Guardians
  • Clause relating to any Specific Legacies
  • Clause relating to the distribution of your estate
  • Clause relating to Trustee Powers
  • Funeral requests and wishes
  • Attestation Clause

Your Own Will Wishes

Consider all of the assets you own including money, possessions, property that make up your estate and what your wishes would be for these assets.

Next have a think about who your Beneficiaries will be, make a list of the names and addresses of anyone you wish to include in your Will and what you would like to leave them.

Think about who you would like to be your Executors (your personal representatives who deal with the administration of your estate once you are gone)

You will ideally need a minimum of two Executors, make sure they are people you can trust and are normally likely to outlive you. If you do not have any one in mind it is always a good idea to nominate a professional trustee who is experienced in dealing in such matters.

If you have minor children you also need to consider who you want to appoint as their legal Guardians.

Once you have considered these matters you are ready to make a Will.

Often people are tempted try and save money by making a DIY Will with templates purchased online or from a stationer’s.

If your circumstances are really simple and your wishes are straight forward, this could work.

However I strongly recommend that you instruct a legal professional such as a Will Writer, Estate Planner or Solicitor.

There are hidden dangers of using DIY last Will and Testament Templates which could be very costly if it all goes wrong.

DIY Wills can be ambiguous and unclear potentially causing them to be legally invalid. using correct terminology is very important to ensure your wishes for the distribution of your estate are not contested.

Instructing your Will to be drawn up by a legal professional is not that expensive, for a basic single Will created by a Will Writing Professional can cost as little as £110 with further discounts for Mirror Wills.

Make sure the professional you choose is a member of a self regulatory organisation, this is essential because members of organisations like the Estate Planners Network monitor there members ensuring that they adhere to strict rules.

Signing Your Will

once your Will has been created in order for it to be legal your Will must be signed in the presence of Two independent witnesses, these witnesses must sign the Will to make it legal.

Witnesses cannot be beneficiaries or closely related to someone who is a beneficiary or they will forfeit any bequest to them in the Will.

You must sign and date the Will in the presence of two witnesses, who must each then sign it in front of you and each other.

Attestation Example

IN WITNESS whereof I have hereunto set my hand

Date:

Signature:

Signed by the above testator/Testatrix as and for his/her last Will and Testament in the presence of us both present at the same time together who then at her request in her presence and in the presence of each other hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses

First Witness
Signed............................................................................................................
Full Name......................................................................................................
Full Address....................................................................................................
.......................................................................................................................
Occupation....................................................................................................

Second Witness
Signed.............................................................................................................
Full Name......................................................................................................
Full Address....................................................................................................
.......................................................................................................................
Occupation...................................................................................................

Storing Your Will

Now your Will has been signed and witnessed it is essential to store it safely.

If you decide to store your Will yourself, ensure that is protected from Fire, Theft, Flood and make sure you tell your Executors where it is so they can locate it when needed.

Whether you store your Will at home or with a Secure Document Storage Provider

Never attach anything to your Will, for example with paper clips, staples or anything else.

Doing so could cause issues when you die, if your Will has marks on it this may be considered as an indication that another important document was attached to it at some time and is now missing.

Related Links

Will Writing FAQ's
Will & Estate Planning Glossary of Terms
Trusts FAQs
Lasting Power Of Attorney FAQs

Catagory: Will Writing

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