Making your will is an easy, inexpensive and straightforward task, which will give you and your family peace of mind.
Throughout this article, we plan to answer your most frequently asked questions surrounding wills.
We’ll also give you step-by-step guide to creating your own legally-binding probate.
How to Write a Will
- Write an introductory statement, identify yourself and declare that this is your “Last Will and Testament.”
- Nullify all previous wills.
- State any wishes you have related to your funeral or estate.
- Appoint an executor.
- Identify the beneficiaries of your will.
- List your assets and divide them amongst your beneficiaries.
- Sign the document in front of witnesses.
- Store it in a safe place.
When writing the introductory paragraph of your will state your name, address and affirm that this document is your “Last Will and Testament”. Next, revoke any previous wills. You can do this by stating that you “hereby revoke, annul and cancel all wills and codicils previously made by me.”
By taking these actions, the legitimacy of your final will cannot be called into question.
State Your Final Wishes
Many people use their will to state their final wishes. These can be specific requests related to funeral arrangements or instructions left to the executor in regards to their assets. Either way, if you’d like to leave instructions, take the opportunity to do so.
Appoint an Executor
Decide who you’d like your executors to be. Your executors will be the people responsible for ensuring your wishes are fulfilled. You should normally appoint at least two executors in your will, in case one is unwilling or unable to act for you when the time comes.
You can choose to appoint a solicitor as your executor, but be aware that they’ll charge a fee for this. If you appoint family or friends as your executors, they can hire a solicitor if they need help. If they’re not happy with the solicitor(s) they hire, they can switch to another.
Most importantly, remember to check that the people you’ve appointed as executors are happy to take on the job. After you’ve signed your will, make sure to give your executors a copy, as well as a list of your property and possessions.
List Your Assets
After appointing an executor to your will, it’s advised that you list any assets, such as property, stocks, bonds or savings accounts. At the same time, you should list any liabilities, e.g car loans or mortgage repayments. Your executor needs to be aware of any debts which may affect your legacy or bequests.
After listing your assets, state the family members, friends or charities that you’d like to remember. There are a number of ways you can leave a gift in your will, but two of the most popular are residuary and pecuniary bequests.
A pecuniary bequest is a gift of a fixed sum of money, while a residuary bequest is a gift made up of the remainder of the estate after all other bequests have been made and debts cleared.
It’s important to state what type of gift you’d like to make. If you’re unsure about how to proceed in this matter, your solicitor will be able to advise you.
Sign & Witness
Once you’re happy with the document and have reviewed it with your family and solicitor, it’s time to sign it in front of witnesses. Usually, your solicitor will provide suitable witnesses to verify the document. Once this is done, take a copy of your Will with you and store it in a safe place.
Do I Need a Solicitor to Write a Will?
It’s a good idea to ask a legal professional to draw up your will as they’ll ensure the document properly reflects your wishes.
Seeking the help of a solicitor also ensures that no problems or disagreements in regards to the distribution of your assets can arise after you’ve passed.
It’s possible to write your Will without the help of a solicitor, however, the wording must be simple and clear and not open to interpretation. The will must also be properly signed and witnessed.
Why Is It a Good Idea to Make a Will?
If you haven’t made a Will, the law decides who will inherit your assets and possessions when you die. This could mean that your possessions don’t go to the people you want them to.
What Happens If I Die Without a Will?
Assets you expected to pass entirely to your spouse or civil partner may have to be shared with children. An unmarried partner doesn’t automatically inherit anything and may need to go to court to claim a share of your assets.
A husband, wife or civil partner from whom you are separated, but not divorced, still has rights to inherit from you.
If not clearly stated, friends, charities and other organisations you may have wanted to support will not get anything.
If you have no close family, more distant relatives may inherit your assets if not explicitly stated otherwise. If you have no surviving relatives, your property and possessions may go to the State.
Start Planning Today
Without a will, relatives who inherit under the law will usually be expected to become executors of your estate. On occasion, these people mightn’t be the best people for the job. A will lets you decide the people who should take on this task.
Leaving clear instructions in your Will may speed things up and avoid confusion. You’ll also help your executors if you leave a list of what you own, any debts you owe and tell them where to find important documents.
If you have any questions or queries or would like to learn more about leaving a Legacy Gift to UNICEF in your will, please call Sarah on 01 – 8783000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.