Tuesday, 4 February 2014

17½ TIPS FOR WRITING A WILL


1. Choose your executors/trustees wisely
They will be responsible for carrying out your financial wishes when you die, and if you have children they will look after and invest the money until the children are at least 18 years old. So make sure they have a good understanding of financial matters and will handle the money wisely. Couples normally appoint each other when the first of them die, but you do need to consider reserves in case you both die together or when the second of you die.

2. Your children are more important than the money
Would you leave your children with no one to care for them for a day, a week, a month, for ever? No, so choose people that will be their guardians if both parents die before they are 18. For unmarried couples, if the father’s name is not on the birth certificate he might not get guardianship without a Will. As adolescence can be a difficult time for children and guardians, choose people that are young enough to cope with the children growing up. Guardians should live in the UK, as guardians who live abroad can cause problems. Failing to appoint guardians mean Social Services and not family members will make the choice for you.

3. Specific Gifts
Who gets the family heirlooms? What charities are important to you? Do you want to leave any money to friends or more distant family members? Writing a Will is the only way to ensure these wishes are achieved.

4. Who gets the main part of your wealth?
Having decided who gets specific gifts who gets the rest? For couples this is normally the surviving partner, with the children inheriting equally when both parents have died. However your wishes might be different.

5. What happens in a disaster situation?
Parents with young children should consider who will inherit if the whole family were together in an accident. The most popular choices are all brothers and sisters or all nieces and nephews, but it could be the wider family, friends or charities.

6. Do you own a business? Does it have a value when you die?
What happens to a business depends on the company structure. This is a specialist area that needs good advice. Do consider who you want to inherit the business? If you employ people will their livelihood be protected? A well drafted Will can also ensure that valuable tax breaks are not lost.

7. Are you living with a partner and not married?
Your partner is not automatically entitled to anything from your estate.  Without a Will they have to go to court and fight for a share, that might involve suing your children!

8. Your husband / wife will inherit everything automatically
Depending on your family structure and your wealth, husbands and wives do not automatically inherit everything. This can cause serious problems for couples with children by a previous relationship, so a well drafted Will becomes even more important.
  
9. Unmarried couples should consider Inheritance Tax
Failing to consider inheritance tax in a Will can cause serious financial difficulty for the survivor after the first person dies.

10. Protect the value of your home from care fees and remarriage?
Sadly, we hear all too often of cases where the value of a house has been used to pay for residential care fees, leaving nothing for the family. Surviving spouses or partners could change their Will to disinherit your children. Remarriage is one of the most common ways that children lose their inheritance. Correctly drafting your Will can prevent this problem.

11. Are you divorced or about to be divorced?
Until your Decree Absolute you are still married so without a Will your spouse benefits if you die. Divorce does not revoke an existing Will, but a Decree Absolute means that your former spouse will be treated as having predeceased you. However all the other gifts in your Will still operate, including gifts to his or her family that you may no longer wish to make?

12. Do you have a Will and are you about to marry or have a Civil Partnership?
Unless your Will was written in contemplation of your marriage or civil partnership, any existing Will is automatically revoked. As we saw earlier, marriage / remarriage is a very common way for children to lose their inheritance

14. Are you worried about what will happen to your pet?
Treasured family pets can be provided for in your Will. You can appoint carers for them and make a legacy to provide for their needs.

15. Do you own an investment property with friends or relatives?
The wrong type of ownership could result in it passing to your friends or relatives rather than to your spouse or children. Having a Will written acts as a check, and if necessary the situation can be corrected to ensure that your share of the property passes to those that you have chosen.

16. Get your Will professionally drafted
Choose someone you trust to write your Will. Lawyers earn more from a badly drafted will than from a good one. For your confidence, each Will we draft has £2,5000,000 of insurance

17. Get your money’s worth from having a Will drafted.
Having had your Will drafted, to make sure it is legally valid it has to be correctly signed and witnessed. Remember that anyone who signs a Will automatically disinherits themselves and their partner, so take care in who you use as a witness.

17½. Look after your Will
Why is this only a half? Because it deals with what to do after you have a Will. Make sure your Will is securely stored and that your executors know where it is, as you will not be here to tell them where to find your Will. Remember it is the signed original that is important, copies have no legal validity.

Need to know more then contact us advice@will-probate.co.uk or visit our website www.will-probate.co.uk

With Thanks to Bob Zwolinsky at Wickham Wills who originally authored this piece.