The importance of having a valid Will
Your Will lets you decide what happens to your money, property and possessions after your death.
Your Will can also make sure that beneficiaries don’t pay more Inheritance Tax than they need to.
When writing your Will it is important that you think carefully about the terms to be included and also follow the legal process to ensure that your finished Will is validly executed under UK law. To make a Will, very broadly:
- You need to be 18 (except in certain circumstances)
- You are of sound mind
- Your Will should be in writing
- It is signed in the presence of two witnesses who are both over 18
The two witnesses are in your presence when they sign it.
Things to think about before writing your Will
Get an idea of what your estate will be worth by drawing up a list of your assets and debts. Assets that typically make up an estate include: property (bricks and mortar), savings, pensions, investments, insurance policies, motor vehicles and personal belongings. Debts may include: mortgages, credit card balances, overdraft, loans and equity release.
You should make sure that it’s absolutely clear what you want to happen to your whole estate. Think about who you want to benefit from your Will, whether you wish to give any specific gifts to particular people, and what you want to happen if any of your beneficiaries should die before you.
Possible contents of a Will
- The name(s) of people or organisations that you wish to benefit
- The person(s) you wish to take care of your children (if they are under the age of 18 when you die)
- The name of your executor(s) – they will be responsible for carrying out your wishes in relation to your estate
- How your wishes may change if your beneficiaries die before you
Possible complications to consider
- You are living with someone who isn’t your husband, wife or civil partner
- You would like your Will to benefit a dependent who can’t care for themselves
- People who may make a claim on your Will
- Having a permanent residence outside of the UK
- Owning a property overseas
- Owning your own business or farm
The law relating to the interpretation and application of Wills is complex. To ensure that your Will records your wishes effectively and operates in the way you intend, please speak to us. We offer an expert Will-writing service tailored to your requirements and will guide you through the process to make the procedure as smooth and efficient for you as possible. We can also provide Inheritance Tax advice and planning alongside your Will.
What happens if you don’t make a Will?
If you don’t make a Will, you will die ‘intestate’ and your estate may not go to the people you want. There are special rules for how your estate will be distributed, which are called the ‘intestacy rules’.