Article written by Angela Shaw, Private Client Solicitor
In today’s contemporary and fast-paced world, it can be easy to put off important tasks, and writing a Will can often fall into this category. However, having a Will is crucial for ensuring your wishes are carried out after your death and providing peace of mind to your loved ones. In this update, we explore the importance of having a Will and the steps to take to safeguard your legacy.
Why do you need a Will?
A Will is a legal document that outlines how your estate including your property and assets should be distributed after your death. Even if you do not consider yourself to be wealthy, having a Will ensures your wishes are respected and your loved ones are taken care of. Without a Will, your estate will be distributed according to the intestacy rules, which may not align with your desires.
The benefits of writing a Will
Writing a Will offers several benefits beyond determining the distribution of your assets. Firstly, if you live with a partner without being married or in a civil partnership, they will not automatically inherit your estate without a Will. Secondly, if you have children, a Will allows you to nominate a legal guardian who will care for them in the event of your passing. Additionally, a Will enables you to express your funeral wishes and can help mitigate inheritance tax.
The consequences of dying without a Will
Dying without a Will is known as dying intestate and can lead to both complications and unintended consequences. The rules of intestacy determine how your estate will be distributed and these rules may not align with your preferences. For example, if you have a spouse and children, your spouse may only receive a portion of your estate, with the remainder divided among your children. In some cases, if you have no surviving relatives, your estate may be claimed by the Crown. It can also be more costly and cause unnecessary delay.
The Will-writing process
Before your appointment, it is helpful to gather relevant information that will assist in the Will-writing process. This includes details about your assets such as property, savings, investments, and valuable possessions. You should also consider any debts or liabilities such as mortgages or loans. Additionally, think about who you would like to appoint as the executor of your Will, the person responsible for carrying out your wishes.
Consultation with a solicitor
During your appointment, the solicitor will guide you through the Will-writing process. They will ask you a series of questions to understand your wishes and ensure your Will accurately reflects your intentions. The solicitor will provide advice on legal matters including tax implications and any specific considerations based on your circumstances. After the consultation, the solicitor will draft your Will.
Review and signing
Once the solicitor drafts your Will, they will provide you with an opportunity to review it thoroughly. It is crucial to carefully read through the document to ensure all your wishes are accurately represented. If any changes or adjustments are necessary, discuss them with the solicitor. Once you are satisfied with the final version, you will sign the will in the presence of witnesses, who will also sign to validate the document.
Planning beyond a Will
Powers of Attorney
While a Will is an essential component of estate planning, it is also important to consider other aspects of protecting your interests and wishes. One such measure is establishing a Lasting Power of Attorney. This legal document allows you to appoint a trusted individual to make financial and personal decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. By appointing someone you trust as your attorney, you can have peace of mind knowing your affairs will be handled according to your wishes.
Periodic review and updates
Creating a Will is not a one-time task. It requires periodic review and updates. Life circumstances change and it is essential to ensure your Will accurately reflects your current wishes and circumstances. Significant events such as marriage, divorce, birth, or death in the family may necessitate modifications to your Will. We would advise you to review your Will regularly and consult with a solicitor to make any necessary updates to ensure your legacy is preserved. Writing a Will is a crucial step in securing your legacy and ensuring your wishes are respected.