Contents Of The Will

When writing a will, there is a recognised format which must be followed for the will to be deemed legal. The following constitutes the basic outline:

A will states that this is your last will and testament
Your full name and address must be on the will and the date of the will
All previous wills, if they exist, must be revoked in writing
There must be an appointment and payment of executors
Provision for the appointment of a firm of solicitors, if appropriate
The method of disposal of your body, whether by cremation or burial or whether you have chosen to leave your body for medical purposes
Payment of testamentary expenses
Payment of inheritance tax or of you are giving gifts free of tax
Any recital, e.g. any statement of affection or other you wish to pass
A list of specific items to be left in your will
A list of all pecuniary legacies, headed “I give and bequeath the following pecuniary legacies”
A list of all gifts of land headed “I give and devise”
A clause dealing with the residue of your estate, such as any property and money remaining after all the gifts and payments of expenses in your will have been made
Your usual signature
The signature of two witnesses, neither of whom (or whose spouses) are given any gifts in the will. There should be a statement that they were both present at the time and either saw you making the signature or acknowledged that the signature is yours

List of the key steps to be taken when preparing a will

It is essential, before beginning to draft out your will to follow a check list of the key steps to be taken:

Make a complete list of all property that you own, including any future property. Deduct any mortgages or loans in order to arrive at a figure which can be left in your will, or a net worth

Next, make a list of all those people who will benefit under your will (beneficiaries)

Note any expressions of affection that you want to make in your will

Organise your executors. These can be members of your family, a banks, solicitor etc. You need to know the fees involved if you are using a professional practice. These should be allowed for in the will. Likewise, you may wish to leave something to those who act as executors for you

Prepare your will, preferably typed and printed on the computer, using quality paper

Make a list of all bequests of your good that you wish to leave and a list of all the legacies of the money that you wish to leave

Think about any specific beneficiaries and what this involves, such as a charity. Do you need to contact them and ask for their number or to enlist any help that they may give? Likewise, you may want to leave money for the upkeep of a pet

Consider whether you want to create any trusts

Make sure that the witnesses have signed your will

Ensure that the signature is your usual one

Make sure that the will is dated the day that it is signed

Fold up your will, place it in an envelope and mark it “The last will and testament of ___ (insert your name here)”

Put your will in a safe place and tell your executors and next of kin where it is kept

Remember to alter your will as your circumstances change

Destroy any old copies of the will

The thirty-day clause

If your immediate beneficiary dies within days of your own demise, unlikely but not unknown, the situation may well arise where the gifts left by you will pass elsewhere. To prevent this happening, you can make provision in your will stipulating another beneficiary should the immediate beneficiary not survive you by thirty days.

The use of statutory will form

Statutory will forms are very helpful in that they have the necessary forms of words, in many cases, There are a number of forms. Form 2 for example, allow you to give all your possessions to someone without having to identify each possession. There are a number of other forms catering for different situation. One such form is Form 4 which is designed for charitable bequests.

International wills

A provision exists which is designed to aid those people who have property overseas. They can now make one will and have it administered in any country which is party to the convention. This can be done regardless of where the will was drawn up or where the assets are. There are a certain number of criteria to be followed however:

The will must be in writing, it can be in any language
The person whose will it is must declare in front of a solicitor/notary that the will is really his or hers and this must be witnessed in front of two people
The person making the will must then sign it at the end, and sign and number each page, in the presence of a solicitor and witnesses who must sign at the end. The date must be added, by a solicitor and a certificate must be attached which should include details of where the will is kept

It will be necessary to seek advice regarding international wills, as different countries may have different probate laws and procedures.