Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Making a Will

Although not an exhaustive list, we’ve listed out our top 10 Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to making a Will.

1. Do seek professional advice

In the UK there are no hard and fast rules on who can write your Will for you. However, that’s not to say that there isn’t a right or wrong way to go about it.

You may have seen the DIY Wills you can collect from the local post office, or perhaps a cheap will template online. Although legally binding when done correctly, who’s to say they have been done correctly?

When making a DIY Will it’s easy to make mistakes which could have a negative impact on the estate or be invalid altogether. These errors could easily be avoided by using a professional Will writing service.

DIY Wills have also been attributed to a 60% rise in estates being contested*, resulting in costly legal fees and family fallouts. Our advice? Leave it to the professionals.

*The Gazette

2. Do ensure that Executors and Guardians are willing to take on the role

Executorship and Guardianship are legal roles which you are appointing in your Will. However, just because you have appointed people for these roles does not make them legally obligated to follow-through with them.

It is absolutely essential that you carefully consider who takes on these roles and that they are aware they have been named.

Executorship can be carried out by professional estate administration companies should this be a preferred option. Guardians, on the other hand, will need to be someone appointed by you. If not, they will fall under the care of the state until a suitable guardian can be found.

3. Do include all assets, not just money

Don’t worry, we’re not saying you need an itemised account of your bits-and-bobs drawer. But higher value or more sentimental items should be listed in your Will to avoid family disputes. It can be difficult for executors to fairly distribute higher value items such as jewellery, expensive paintings, sentimental photo albums etc. Therefore, by listing these items out when making your Will you will be saving potential arguments in the future.

4. Do check your Will regularly  

Unfortunately, writing a Will isn’t something you can do just once and forget about. Depending on your stage in life, there may be circumstances in the future that would require your Will to be updated.

Marriage, divorce, the birth of a child etc. are all reasons to re-evaluate the contents of your Will and potentially make some changes.

We do appreciate that checking your Will isn’t always at the forefront of your mind. This is why we offer all of our customers an annual courtesy call to ensure their Will still reflects their wishes.

5. Do store your Will safely

It’s all well and good writing a Will and getting it signed correctly, but if it can’t be found you may as well not have bothered at all. It is essential that the original Will document can be found after death for the contents to be carried out. Without this, you will be classed as dying without a Will.

We would always recommend using our Will storage service to ensure your Will is kept safe and intact. This also comes with free Will registration with Certainty, a national Will register, to ensure your Will can be found.

6. Don’t delay making your Will

If you’re reading this, we’re assuming you’re at least considering making a Will. Life is full of surprises and we never know what’s around the corner. Writing your will shouldn’t be something you put off for the future, because you never know when it’s going to be needed.

7. Don’t let the cost dissuade you

It can be tempting to try and save a bit of money now by doing a DIY will or using a less-qualified online service. But this is a false economy. When it comes down to it, by spending a bit more now to ensure your Will is a true reflection of your wishes and legally binding, you could be saving thousands in future legal costs over Will disputes for your family.

Which is why you’re writing a Will anyway, right?

8. Don’t forget your letter of wishes

As most pension funds and insurances have a named beneficiary, your Executors need to be made aware that they exist outside of your estate. A letter of wishes is the ideal way to ensure that any policies you have are easily found and distributed to the relevant beneficiaries. Your letter of wishes should be drafted to include all of these policies, the company they are held with and account numbers.

9. Don’t gift anything you don’t own outright  

For instance, joint bank accounts are not yours solely and therefore the contents are automatically left to the other holder of the account. Similarly, if you jointly own a home, unless you have a Tenancy in Common agreement, your share of the home will refer back to the surviving owner(s).

10. Don’t let beneficiaries or their partner’s sign

Once you have written your Will it needs to be signed correctly to become a legally binding document. Generally, anybody can sign a Will as long as they are of sound mind, over 18 and not blind. However, one big caveat is that they cannot be of benefit to the estate.

Anybody who you have left gifts to in your Will (including their partners or children) should not be chosen as witnesses. To be on the safe side, it’s best to avoid direct relations acting as witnesses. Instead, choose impartial parties such as neighbours or friends.

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