Writing a Will is the best way to take care of your family after you die. It allows you to record what you want to happen to your money and property. So you might want to:
- Put some money aside to help your son continue his training or your grandchildren ;
- Say thank you with a gift to a family friend; or
- Make sure your daughter receives your treasured ring.
It makes sense to plan when you are healthy, happy and can think clearly.
So can you simply write it all down?
Writing a Will
Sadly, years of arguments in otherwise friendly families have led to strict rules about how and when you can write a Will. Get it wrong and your family may incur huge costs trying to make it work, and if the ‘will’ is invalid it will be useless.
Should I use a lawyer to write my Will?
You can write your own simple Will following guidance such as this from consumer advisors Which. But this can be a false economy if it does not achieve what you want.
Lawyers experienced in Will writing can:
- Find the most effective way to ensure your property is distributed as you request;
- Identify any legal or practical issues that may interfere with your wishes;
- Advise on the impact of Inheritance Tax (see current rates here)
- Ensure that any Executors and Guardians are properly appointed.
For further guidance on the writing of Wills, see Citizens Advice Bureau.
If you decide to take legal advice, check the fees and services offered by large solicitors firms, small local practices and online services to ensure that you know what you will get for your money. An experienced local practitioner may offer a more friendly and convenient service, which may be invaluable when the time comes to carry out your will.
For help with finding a solicitor, contact The Law Society. There is also an annual charity scheme called Will Aid, which allocates solicitors to write wills for a donation during the month of November.
If you die without making a valid Will, your worldly goods will be distributed according to legal rules on Intestacy. These rules take little account of partnerships outside marriage, step-children (unless they have been adopted) or circumstances that might affect the way you would prefer your money to be left, such as any special needs or illness. Intestacy rules will rarely achieve the outcome that most people would have wished, yet only half UK adults have bothered to write a Will (Will Aid).
Write a Will
So if you want to be sure that your money and possessions go where you choose, make a Will.
You can do it at any time, and review it in the future if circumstances change. Think of it as an insurance policy to protect your assets in the future, however far away that may be.
- You will put your own mind at rest
- Your family will be happier knowing that you have thought things through carefully.
- And it gives you the chance to explain your choices in advance, if you so wish.