In many cases, having a badly prepared Will – or a Will that’s out of date is worse than not having a Will in the first place. A Will full of mistakes, unclear instructions or one that doesn’t adequately provide for unforeseen circumstances can be a source of unlimited problems that could prove to be extremely expensive and time consuming to correct. The responsibility lies upon yourself to ensure that the Will is written properly. Apart from these factors, the actual making of the Will is fairly straightforward.
For writing the Will, you have the following options:
Write one yourself
Hire the services of a solicitor
Use a specialist Will writing company
One of the main purposes of the Will is to ensure that your estate (after all your liabilities have been settled) is distributed the way you want it. For cases where jointly-owned property is involved and you prefer that your share goes to a person other than the joint owner, you need to seek professional legal advice.
If you are looking to hire a solicitor to write your Will, the average cost for a straightforward will with fairly straightforward estate should be below £200 to write. It is advisable to look for a reputable solicitor because of the legal risks involved in having a Will that is not written up properly.
Before drafting up the Will, you need to have a good idea of the beneficiaries and what you would like them to have. Also bear in mind any beneficiaries that you may actually outlive. If you are a parent of young children, you need to appoint guardians should you and your partner die at the same time. The key to writing up a good Will is lateral thinking – you need to accommodate for any unforeseen and unexpected circumstances.
Some common pitfalls to avoid when making a Will include:
Leaving donations to charities that don’t even exist (make sure you have the right titles and names of organisations that you want to gift)
Not specifying relatives that share the same name
Not having the Will witnessed or signed in the right places
Ignoring any debts that you may owe that have potential to become liabilities
When your Will is drafted up and you are happy with it, you will need to sign it and have the signing witnessed by two people that do not stand to benefit from the Will. This is the law in England and Wales. In Scotland you only need one witness, who again cannot be a beneficiary.
Choosing an executor
You have the choice of selecting the people that you want to administer your estate. In legal terms, these people are called “executors”. You may name the executors in you Will. The executor will be in charge of managing your estate, as well as handling taxes, distributing the assets according to your wishes and finally winding up the proceedings. An executor is not barred from being a named beneficiary in your Will.
In most cases, people prefer to hire a solicitor as well as a personal executor. This can help share the burden of dealing with the estate, as well as giving the executor some legal aid and backup. The solicitors fees can be extracted from your estate.
If no executor is named in the Will, then the High Court may appoint an executor and grant of probate of their choosing (this is normally a solicitor or a bank).