It’s a statistic that makes most people catch their breath, but amazingly some 60 per cent of adults in the UK haven’t written a will.
In fact, even though they are in the age bracket most likely to have dependent children, just 32 per cent of people in the UK between the ages of 35 and 54 have written their will.
If you die without making a will, then your wishes (if they are even known) are not certain to be taken into account. Without a will, the law of intestacy will apply and the length of time for your estate to be settled is likely to drag on for longer. In the meantime, how will your dependents manage?
Writing a will really is an essential action all adults should take, so here are some things you should think about:
There are DIY kits available but they are by no means fool-proof and things very often go drastically wrong, with the will being held invalid. While this may appear a cheaper option, in the long-run it may cost more It’s far better to engage a professional to write your will, unless you have the knowledge and expertise required
Executors are responsible for ensuring your wishes are carried out after you die. It is an important role, potentially handling large sums of money and property, so choose carefully and, of course, ask their permission first.
If you are married or in a civil partnership you are likely to appoint your spouse, but it is sensible to have a second or even a third executor, just in case your spouse is unable to act.
If you have dependent children, it is important to appoint guardians. If you die and there is no living parent, the court will appoint a guardian for children under the age of 18 unless you have specified someone..
If you are incorporating a trust in your will, or if your beneficiaries might be under 18 when you die, then you need to appoint trustees to look after the inheritance. Your executors and trustees are usually the same people authorised under your will, but they don’t have to be. These should be people who you trust to make the right decisions for the beneficiaries.
If you want to gift some specific items to someone in particular then you should detail this within the will. It will avoid all sorts of arguments later.
It is important to sign your will in the correct way otherwise it will be held invalid for lack of formality. This is why it is so important to engage a professional to guide you through the correct procedures.
By all means keep copies of your will, but ensure the original is stored in a proper facility where it will be safe from fire or flood. We store our clients’ wills free of charge. Don’t hide your will – it’s of no use if it cannot be found.
The legal team at Optimum Professional Services specialise in wills, probate and estate administration, so please get in touch if you need any help or advice.