30th July 2020
Writing a will is something that most adults have on their ‘to do’ list in the back of their minds, however it is estimated that less than half of the UK’s adults have actioned this mental note and made a valid will.
Having a will in place when you die is a way of making sure your estate is divided and shared in the way you intended it to be with your loved ones. It also saves your grieving family members a great deal of time and stress when it comes to managing your affairs.
Our experienced and trusted Private Client team at Lamb Brooks share some useful starting points.
Your ‘estate’ includes your property, savings, investments, insurance policies and pensions along with valuable items such as cars, jewellry, furniture, and appliances. A good starting point is to get an idea of your estate once any debts have been repaid, such as mortgages, credit cards and loans. Of course your assets will change as time goes on (and hopefully increase in value) however, once you have a clearer picture of what your estate will consist of you can give thought to how you would like to pass on your wealth or assets.
If you have young children, then you will need to think about putting guardians in place if both parents were to die. This is taken care of in your will but you may also want to make other provisions for them such as planning for school or university fees and creating a plan for how they will inherit money from your estate when they are older. If you have grown up children and/or grandchildren consider how you would like your estate to be divided. Some people choose to pass onto their children, others skip a generation and pass money straight onto their grandchildren and others name all their family in their will to receive equal or differing portions. Think about what works for you.
Many people have worked hard throughout their lives with the intention to pass certain assets down to the next generation, be that a property, a savings pot or something meaningful. Also, lots of families have cherished, sentimental items that they want to pass down, such as pieces or jewellery, art, photo albums or family heirlooms. In your will you are also able to set out any specific wishes that you have when it comes to funeral arrangements. It can be difficult discussing your death with loved ones but writing out your desired plans in a will can help them at a difficult time. Stating these wishes in your will can save your executors a headache and ensure that your wishes are met when it comes to what matters to you most.
There are some factors that may make your will less straight-forward. These include things like owning a business, having children from previous marriages, being divorced, holding asset overseas etc. It is worth getting advice so that these aspects can be dealt with the best possible way before it is too late.
Your executor is the person responsible for all the administration involved in winding up your estate, dealing with professionals such as solicitors and banks and distributing your assets. Being an executor involves a lot of responsibility so select your executors carefully as someone you can trust and rely on. It is possible to elect your Solicitor to act as executor if you do not have any close family who are local. Consider the age and health of your executors, because if you outlive them, you may need to update your will again.
Once you have a good idea about how you would like to pass on your estate it is time to instruct the services of a solicitor to create your legally-binding will and offer valuable advice on how best to structure your later life planning. Your solicitor will draft your will taking into consideration your personal circumstances and wishes, ready for you to sign. Your will is one of the most important documents you will ever write, even though you are not around to see it put to use, so it is something that you must get right.
Your will is a fluid, living document but it needs to be written as precisely as possible to be valid. Therefore, you should update your will when ever any major life events occur. Things like getting divorced, re-married or someone named in your will passing away. If you have been generic with the wording of your will then you may not need to make any changes, but your solicitor can check this for you. For example, if you state that assets are to be split equally between your children or grandchildren and you have bereavements or new additions in the family then your will would suffice as written. It is a good idea to take a look at your will every 5 years or so, just to make sure that your circumstances or wishes haven’t changed in that time.
A common mistake that people often make is not letting their family or executor know where their will is stored. This can cause delays and issues if the person dealing with your estate is not local and doesn’t know where to start looking for your will. At Lamb Brooks, we store our client’s original wills in our fire-proof safe room ready to be accessed whenever needed. It is a good idea for you to have a copy of your will stored in your home and to let someone know where it is.
If this article has inspired you to start thinking about making a will, please call our friendly, expert team of Solicitors who can talk you through the costs involved and the next steps to take.
Call us on 01256 844888, email firstname.lastname@example.org or speak to our online Chat Assistant at any time of day.
Our office is open as usual, or our Solicitors are able to make local home visits if you are still isolating or have trouble travelling.
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Using a Solicitor Vs Using a Will Writer
Leaving Money to Charity in Your Will
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.
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