A will is a legal document that stipulates what happens to your assets when you pass away. These assets include all property, money savings, and investments.
While making such arrangements can be difficult and emotional, it’s vital to provide your loved ones with closure and security after you pass away. This blog discusses the importance of making a will, what you’ll need, and how to write it.
Listing basic details and asset information
First, you’ll need to list personal information, like your full name, date of birth, marital status, and specifics around dependents (including children, stepchildren, or estranged offspring).
Next, you should state the approximate value of assets you own, such as any bank accounts, ISAs, premium bonds, pensions, life insurance, or properties. If you own your home (or any other property), you need to calculate the equity you hold, which will affect what happens to it after your death. For example, are you a sole owner, joint owner, or tenant in common?
You may need to review and update your basic details and asset information every few years.
Executors are individuals responsible for carrying out your wishes. You can choose anyone over the age of 18 to be your executor – but you should ask them before appointing. Generally, people opt for family members, friends, beneficiaries, or professional solicitors.
It’s possible to nominate up to four executors, and it’s a good idea to ask several people in case one cannot act.
You’ll have to decide who you’d like to leave your estate to. You may wish to leave all of it to one person, like your spouse. Alternatively, you can divide your estate between several beneficiaries. This will require you to stipulate proportions, equally or in varying amounts.
Please note that unmarried couples, or couples who haven’t registered a civil partnership, won’t have automatic rights to inherit anything. As a result, a will is even more important if you wish for them to benefit after you pass away.
Determining your legacies
Legacies are gifts that you leave in your will. Various types include a pecuniary (a fixed sum of money), specific item, charitable, and residual (the rest of your estate).
Think about whether you would like to leave specific possessions to friends or family. People tend to leave items of sentimental value, like jewellery and paintings. You might also consider if you want to give a cash gift to a charity or a certain individual.
Money and valuable items aren’t the only things you need to take into account when writing your will. Any dependents, like young children or pets, are also vital considerations. With young children, you should nominate a guardian(s) in case both you and the other parent pass away while they are under 18. Pets are also considered part of the estate – so it’s a good idea to appoint someone to take care of them.
You’ll also want to include any wishes for your funeral. Perhaps you already have a funeral plan in place, or you want to set down your burial or cremation preference.
Why is it important to make a will?
We recommend anyone over the age of 18 drafts a will to make sure their wishes are carried out after death. A will makes things easier for your next of kin. Plus, it means you’ll steer clear of the rules of intestacy – which determine who inherits your estate if you pass away without a will, or if it doesn’t match your current situation. For instance, marriage revokes a will unless it’s written in contemplation of said marriage. If you recently married, then your will could be void.
A professionally drafted document will provide you and your loved ones with peace of mind. While you can opt for a ‘DIY will’, you might make common mistakes which render it invalid. Professional support guarantees a water-tight plan for after your death.
Once you’ve created a will, you should review it every two to three years to make sure it meets your most recent wishes. You’ll also need to make updates if there’s a change in circumstances, such as a divorce, separation, new partnership, children, or house purchase.
Write your will with Optimal Solicitors
Simple wills start from £150+ VAT per person. You’ll need to be as accurate as possible when talking to your solicitor so they can advise correctly and accordingly. And there’s no one better to turn to than Optimal Solicitors.
We’ll help you to get your affairs in order, value your estate, name an executor, and more. Discover how we could support you by contacting our friendly team today.