The New Year is always a good time to make resolutions. Some we keep and some we don’t. But one well worth making and keeping is taking the decision to draw up a will.
The last 12 months, more than any other, have been about community and family, and supporting one another, against the backdrop of the Coronavirus pandemic.
So what better way to support your loved ones than by leaving a will. It means that, when you die, they have one less stress to worry about because all your wishes have been formally documented and can be carried out.
If you have yet to write a will, then you are not alone. Remarkably, some 60 per cent of the UK adult population have failed to do so. Yet if you die without making a will, the law of intestacy applies and it can take many months to settle your estate.
Before you draft your will – and we highly recommend that you use professionals, such as the Swindon wills and probate team here at Optimum – here are some important considerations.
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 Swindon wills and probate team at Optimum Professional Services specialise in wills, probate and estate administration, so please get in touch if you need any help or advice.