Writing a will –
Not many of us relish the idea of writing a will. It forces us to confront our own mortality, after all. Writing a will, however, is hugely important, and is probably easier than you think. Even if you already have a life insurance policy in place to help protect your family, creating a will ensures that your entire estate is dealt with appropriately.
A will not only enables you to dictate control of your assets after your passing but also allows you to make legal preparations for children, spouse, or civil partner and appoint those you want to ‘execute’ – or carry out – your finals wishes.
Without a will you are fundamentally voiceless to protect those you love after your death. A civil partner would receive no part of your estate. If you and your spouse die without a will then you cannot appoint legal guardians to look after any children you have under the age of 18 and the courts and social services will appoint legal guardians for them. Your relatives could end up with a disproportionate inheritance tax bill. Also, if no relatives are found, your estate could default into the government’s custody. Avoiding such situations is as simple as making a will, either at home or through a solicitor.
Image courtesy of the Law Society
Make your own will
Most wills can be written at home without any need for a solicitor. There are plenty of books on the subject and even basic DIY kits available over the internet and from various charities. If you choose to do it yourself, however, do your research and be careful to avoid common blunders. Some examples of common mistakes are not accounting for all of your assets, inadequately fulfilling the requirements for a legally valid will, failing to consider that a beneficiary may pass away before you and forgetting to have alterations signed and witnessed.
Although it may seem unnecessary to pay a professional when you can do it yourself, sometimes hiring a professional can be a good decision. Ensuring that your will is free of mistakes can help your beneficiaries avoid the expense of correcting any faults after your death. If you are uncertain about specific details or your will is complicated by such issues as shared property, children from a previous marriage, owning international property, or you have shares in a business, you may consider using a solicitor to ensure there are no errors.
Even with the aid of a professional, setting up a will doesn’t have to be expensive. A charity called Will Aid, for instance, partners with solicitors and other well-known charities to provide basic wills in return for a donation (generally £95 for a single will or £135 for couples). Even if you choose not to use a professional, it may be worth the nominal fee to have a solicitor review your document so you can be sure it’s been laid out correctly.
Whether you choose to create your own will or employ the services of a solicitor, you will need to carefully choose the executors of your will. Two executors are generally chosen and they will be responsible for carrying out your wishes and distributing your estate. The job requires responsibility and hard work, and not everyone is willing to take on the task. If you don’t mind paying a fee, you can often select a bank, accountant, solicitor, or public trustee to serve as executor.
The most important thing is that you get your will completed. You have worked hard to provide for your family and so it’s important that you can protect the investment you’ve made over your lifetime and ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death.
About the author: Matt Sanders is a spokesperson on life insurance for Gocompare.com. He has commented extensively on a whole range of money matters and closely follows the latest changes and trends in the sector.
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