We talk a lot about planning for your future. Whether we’re discussing pensions, highlighting the true cost of retirement or making sure you’re prepared for old age care. It’s an important thing to do.
Today we are going to focus on another area: Why it’s important to have a will
Writing a will is one of those things everyone knows they really should do. But all too often, we don’t quite get around to it! Life is busy so it tends to get pushed to the bottom of the pile. Having a will, however, is vital, especially if you have children.
The benefits of writing a will
If you know exactly who you want your money, possessions and property to go to when you die, make a will!
Your will is essentially a set of instructions that dictate how the things you leave behind should be shared out. It is the only legally binding way for making sure your wishes are followed once you pass away.
Here are five very good reasons to make a will:
- You get to decide who gets what when you die. This is especially important if you’re not married or in a civil partnership. Or, if you want to give something to someone who is not in your immediate family. Without a will, the courts will decide what to do with all of your things. They may not share out your estate in a way you would like.
- You can make sure your children (under the age of 18) are looked after. By making a will you’re able to choose who looks after your children should you die whilst they still need caring for. If you don’t have a will, the court will choose among your family members or a state-appointed guardian.
- It saves your loved ones a lot of trouble. If all your wishes are written down in black and white, there’s much less chance of disagreement.
- It avoids a lengthy probate process. Most estates must go through probate. Having a will speeds up the process meaning any beneficiaries have access to their share sooner.
- A will can reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax. With a bit of planning, more of what you have worked hard for will go where you want it, rather than being paid out in taxes.
Your will can have another role aside from naming where your property, possessions and money go. You can use it to tell people about any other wishes you may have. Instructions for your funeral, for example.
Things to consider when writing your will
When you write a will, you need to choose an executor. This is a person who is in charge of making sure your wishes are followed. They are also responsible for organising your estate.
You can choose more than one person to be your executor if you wish.
The executor(s) should do their best to carry out all the instructions in your will. As long as they don’t break the law! So, make sure you choose someone you know and trust.
Your will needs to be legally valid
To ensure that your will is followed when you pass away, make sure it is valid. It should:
- Give clear instructions on how your estate should be shared out.
- Have been written by you while you still had the ability to make your own decisions. You should not have been put under any pressure about who you leave anything to.
- Be signed and dated by yourself in the presence of two witnesses. The witnesses need to be over 18 and independent. They cannot be anyone who is set to inherit from you. Nor can it be their husband, wife or civil partner.
Making a will can be a bit of an undertaking. Make sure you take time to plan. Knowing exactly what you would like to go where first will make the writing of your will much easier.
Writing your will
Although you can write your will yourself, it is always best to seek professional help. Especially if you have a complex family situation, are going to need to pay Inheritance Tax or want to protect someone’s interests (like a disabled family member).
By using a professional will writer, you can be sure that it covers everything it needs to. It gives you the confidence that it has been prepared properly and will stand once you pass away.
The friendly team at our sister company, Face To Face Estate Planning, are estate planning experts. They can help you to write your will, or even review a will you already have in place. Get in touch today if you would like to speak to someone about your will.