How To Write A Will
For anyone with assets, such as property, a business or savings, writing a will is something that should be seriously considered, regardless of age or health. It is a harsh reality that everyone will die one day and if you die without a will, the grief your loved ones experience could be further compounded by huge legal bills, turning the whole situation into a financial struggle, which could potentially last for years.
Most people would like to be absolutely certain that their assets will benefit the people they want them to. Certain living situations, such as unmarried couples living together, are also only partially recognised in British law and without writing a will, it can be extremely difficult for unmarried partners to receive any assets from their partner’s death.
Writing a will is something many people put off, through fear of high solicitor fees or through a general unwillingness to confront such a difficult subject. However, it is perfectly possible to write a will without high costs, and the ramifications of failing to write one can be vast.
Key Things to Consider
When pondering their will, a lot of people automatically cast their mind towards who they intend to leave their money to. However, there are a number of other important things that need to be carefully considered, including:
- Children – If you have children under the age of 18, it is important to consider who will take care of them. It may also be appropriate to ensure that financial support is in place for their care.
- Property – Decisions may need to be made about who to leave property to. It is worth noting that if you have a ‘tenant in common’ mortgage, for example, a decision will need to be made about what happens to your share of the property.
- Funeral Arrangements – Many people have an idea of what arrangements they would want at their funeral and detailing these arrangements in your will can save family a lot of extra stress.
When writing a will, people have two main choices: write the will themselves, or have their will professionally written. Both choices offer plus points and drawbacks and, in most cases, the decision will depend on the individual circumstances of the person writing the will; what assets they have, how complicated their will is and how much they are able to spend on it.
People are entitled to write their own will and, as long as it is formally witnessed and signed, it is every bit as legally valid as a professionally drafted one. People writing their own will should contact Citizen’s Advice. Some word processing software comes with will-writing templates and websites like NetLawman.co.uk also offer free templates to download. DIY wills are often well-suited for more simple cases.
However, wills are important legal documents and tiny errors can cause major problems. DIY wills have huge potential for error and for being misinterpreted. As a result, they are not recommended for people with extremely valuable assets, like businesses, or for people with complicated wishes, which are difficult to convey.
Professionally drafted wills, on the other hand, offer far more protection, as they are written by an expert, thereby reducing the chance of errors. Professional solicitors are also regulated by the SRA, which ensures that people have legal channels to explore if things do go wrong.
One downside to professionally written wills is the cost, however, there are options to explore. For example, many charities offer free solicitor writing services, in the hope that you will leave a donation as part of your will and there are a number of nationwide schemes, like Will Aid and Free Wills Month, which aim to provide basic wills for low prices.
One little nuance of wills and bereavement in general that many do not know about is that you can still make a claim for PPI compensation on behalf of the deceased if you are the executor of their estate (or main beneficiary in a will).