As a society, we’re often very reluctant to talk about death, but it’s something we must discuss as it comes to us all eventually. Sometimes it comes unexpectedly too, so knowing what’s going to happen to our property and dependants in that event is vital.
For this reason, it’s always advisable to make a will, and ensure your will has been drawn up correctly for it to be legal. There are various tools available to help you draw up your own will, but it’s usually best to involve a solicitor. This is particularly the case if your circumstances are in any way unusual.
Why It’s Important to Have a Will
If you don’t have a will, you’ll be declared to have died intestate. Should this happen, the effect on those you leave behind can be devastating.
In cases where this has happened, there are strict rules that dictate how your money and property are allocated – and this may not be the way you want them to be given out. For example, unmarried partners are not allowed to benefit without a will, which can cause them severe financial hardship. Likewise, children that are not your own won’t be considered, so stepchildren will miss out.
If you have no spouse nor eligible biological descendants, then your estate will go to distant relatives or the state, while much-loved partners, friends, and stepchildren receive nothing.
What a Will Should Say
Your will is made to override the default rules and distribute your property to the people you want to have it. This means you need to decide who you want to benefit from your will. Who gets which possessions, and who should care for any children under 18 years of age. Unfortunately, you also need to consider what happens if those due to benefit die before you or indeed alongside you, for example in a road traffic accident.
You need to appoint executors to your will, i.e. people who you trust to carry out your wishes. It’s a difficult job demanding a great deal of work and responsibility, so you need to name people you trust. Often these will be relatives, and you need at least two. The executors can be among those named in the will, but, if they’re not, they need to be especially trustworthy. You can appoint your solicitor to act as executor.
Lastly, your will needs to be signed and worded properly, and kept in a safe place where it can easily be found.
For many people, making a will is a straightforward case of leaving everything to a couple of named individuals, but others can be much more complicated. Things to consider that could cause problems include leaving a bequest to a dependant who can’t care for themselves. If you share property with someone to whom you’re not married or you have property overseas, you need to have your will carefully drafted by a solicitor. Likewise if you own a business or have children from a previous marriage.
If you feel it’s time you made a will, get in touch with Mark Reynolds Solicitors and we’ll ensure you get it right.