Writing a will is something people tend to think about as they get older. However, the importance of having a valid will in place is relevant to everyone, no matter your age or situation. A will ensures that if the worst happens, your wishes will be carried out and your loved ones will receive what you stipulate. The pandemic has shown us that life is delicate and never before has there been a better reason to put your estate in order.
Why do I need a will?
A will is a legal document that states what happens to your money, property and possessions – known as your estate – after you die. It also includes details about who will care for your children, and who the executors to your will are – the people responsible for carrying out your instructions.
What happens if there isn’t a will?
If someone dies without a will, or a valid will, it’s referred to as dying intestate, which means a court will intervene and administer the estate and inheritance according to the set rules of intestacy. As the UK Government website states, ‘If you die without a will, the law decides who gets what.’
Can anyone write a will?
There is a lot of advice available in terms of making a will. What is most important is that the will you make is deemed valid. If a will is deemed invalid, the same rules apply as when there isn’t a will at all, and your wishes will not necessarily be carried out. You can read more about the definition of wills and probate on our previous blog.
What steps should I take when making a will?
The first thing you should do is get an up to date value of your estate. Your estate covers both your assets and your debts. Once you have an idea of what your estate consists of, you can make decisions about what you would like to happen to it after your death, naming who would benefit and what your wishes might be. You should also choose your executors who are the people who responsible for distributing your estate.
How do I write a will?
Age UK advises people to get advice from a solicitor or chartered legal executive, and if desired speak to a lawyer who specialises in wills and probate. The reason for this is to make sure your will is valid and to ensure that you have received appropriate and objective advice about your situation. Citizens’ Advice UK also recommends using a solicitor to make your will because, ‘It is generally advisable to use a solicitor or to have a solicitor check a will you have drawn up to make sure it will have the effect you want. This is because it is easy to make mistakes and, if there are errors in the will, this can cause problems after your death.’
Whilst some people write their own wills or use a template, sound legal advice and an experienced professional ensure you are clear about your choices and they are written, signed and witnessed in the appropriate way. Some people also find it helpful to talk through their wills and wishes with a solicitor without the pressure of family or loved ones being present.
What do I do with my will once it is written and signed?
It’s vital that you store your will safely, whether with the solicitor who wrote it, the government’s probate service or at home. The Law Society advises you to make sure your executors know where your will is kept and that they have access to it without needing to apply for legal permission.
Can I change my will after it is written?
Yes, it’s advisable to review your will every five years in order to update any changes in your estate or wishes that may have taken place. You can add a supplement, known as a codicil or make a new will and cancel the previous one. When doing this it is essential to make sure the new will is valid. Using a solicitor can make this process simpler and ensure the validity of your document.
When should I write a will?
Anyone over the age of 18 can write a will and update it at any relevant time in the future.
How can Shaar Bridge help?
Shaar Bridge’s specialist team are here to guide you through the will writing process. We can provide a professional and empathetic space where you can ensure your wishes will be written and signed correctly.