While none of us wants to think of a time when we are no longer here, it pays to put some time aside to write a Will sooner rather than later. The main reason for this is so you can be sure you’re your estate will go to the people closest to you.
If you die intestate, the court decides how your estate is divided according to a set of fairly rigid rules which may not be in line with your exact wishes.
The good news is that making a Will is relatively easy and many people are quite surprised at what can be included.
Getting a Professionally Drafted Will
While some DIY services offer Will writing, it’s important to consider having the document drafted by a professional wills and probate lawyer. This is especially true for more complex wills and estates that require more thought. Poor wording, lack of clarity and omitting important clauses and even some assets, can end up costing your estate thousands in the long term, particularly if someone decides to contest it or the intent is unclear.
Mistakes that are often seen in will writing include choosing the wrong executors, not accounting for debts and even failing to appoint guardians for children. For example, what happens if you leave a piece of property to a friend but they predecease you? Who should that asset then go to?
A professional will writing service should help you cover all that bases with the appropriate wording and structure and means you can be confident of having a legally binding Will that is fit for purpose and meets your needs.
Naming Your Executors
One of the most important things you need to do is nominate an executor or executors for your estate once you pass away. It might be your spouse or another family member. It can even be a professional executor or a close friend. You can also nominate replacement executors in case your original choice is unable or unwilling to act for you.
Their role is to implement the directions contained in your will as close to the letter as possible. It’s important to get agreement from the person before you name them in your will.
Who Are the Beneficiaries?
Next, you need to have a clear idea of who you want to leave your estate to. How complicated this is will depend on your assets. There may be other people apart from your immediate family that you want to leave something to. You can leave items or specific cash gifts or items to anyone including organisations such as charities.
What Are You Leaving?
If you own a property outright, for example, you may want to leave it to your spouse if they survive you or your children if not. You might have smaller assets like jewellery or a favourite antique that you want to leave to a specific individual. Perhaps you have a bank account and you want to split the money held in it between different people.
You will need to include the full names and addresses of your beneficiaries along with what you would like to leave them.
Providing for Children
You can make special provision for your children in your will. For example, if both parents die and the children are under the age of 18, you could nominate a legal guardian. You can also put money into a trust for your children which they can access at a certain age.
Leaving Something to Charity or Other Organisation
It’s becoming increasingly common for people to include a donation to charity in their Will. This may be an organisation that you have a special affiliation with. On the other hand, you might want to leave money to a political organisation, local sports club or a higher education institute such as a university.
One big change in recent years that people don’t often think about is their digital assets – things like photographs, music or films that you own but which are online and which you want to pass on. You may have online accounts, including social media, that you want someone in your family to take over or delete after your death.
Caring for Pets
Making a will isn’t just about passing on your assets. If you are a pet owner, you may want to make sure that your favourite dog or cat is looked after by someone you trust.
Finally, you can also make your wishes about your funeral known. For example, whether you want to be buried or cremated, where you’d like your remains scattered and even whether you want to be an organ donor. While not legally binding, these wishes are normally followed by the executor.
One thing to consider, however, is that funeral plans are often made before the Will is read so it’s also important to make sure your loved ones know what you wish to happen in the event of your death.
MGF Wills & Estate Planning offers a free consultation, so call or message today to get advice tailored to your circumstances.
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