Ten Tips For A Perfect Will
It can be something of a tough subject to broach with your family, but as Benjamin Franklin said there are only two things certain in life: death and taxes. Without such conversations, and neglecting to make preparations for after you’ve gone, can cause many problems , leaving them with a lot of things to deal with beyond your death.
Making a will can feel like a daunting task that many people avoid, but the reality is that the business of making a will is much more straightforward than it seems, and doesn’t cost as much as you’d expect either, as long as you have guidance to avoid the pitfalls involved in the process.
Unlike many areas of financial services, will-writing is not a regulated market. This means that there are many different ways to get your will drafted, but should something go wrong, the protections afforded can vary hugely, depending on who writes it.
However, while will-writing is unregulated, solicitors are regulated professionals. If you use a solicitor, then you are covered by a range of potentially viable protections. Taking the DIY route may seem cheaper, but you would be on your own.
Will solicitors in Buckinghamshire have ten top tips on how to get a perfect will.
1. Choose who draws up your will wisely
DIY kit wills are easy to get hold of for making writing your will, but these tend to be a bit one-size-fits-all and can be full of errors and pitfalls. A solicitor would probably make much more money having to pick through a badly drafted will, and dealing with claims against the will than they would for drawing up a correctly formatted will in the first place.
2. Choose your executors well
Your executors are responsible for following your instructions per your estate after you have gone. It can be a very demanding role, with a lot of responsibility, and will involve the handling of large sums of money. Not only would you have to choose someone you trust to take on the role of executor, but check that they are happy to do so in the first place.
3. Appoint a default or substitute executor
It is quite common with married people for them to choose each other as their executor, and that is fine, except do not have them as your sole executor. Should the worst happen, and you were both lost together in an accident, neither of you would have a living executor. Enlist a default or substitute executor to make sure you are covered.
4. Appoint guardians
In the unfortunate circumstances that you are the last living parent, and you pass on leaving children under the age of 18, the courts would appoint a guardian, unless you have specified one in your will.
This is particularly important for unmarried couples with children. In the event of the death of the father, guardianship automatically passes to the mother. However, in the reverse situation, the father does not automatically get these rights. Appointing each other as guardians in your wills should rectify this problem.
5. Appoint trustworthy trustees
If you are setting up a trust in your will or if your beneficiaries could be aged under 18 when you die, you will need to appoint trustees. Trustees will be responsible for managing and investing money and property until it passes to the beneficiaries, so make sure they are people with a good grasp of financial matters.
6. Make specific legacies
If you have family heirlooms, or items of special sentimental value, such as jewellery, furniture, art, books or record collections, then you should leave these items as a specific legacy to a named beneficiary for them to be passed on and preserved.
7. Make sure you leave a residual legacy
A ‘residue’ is what remains of your estate after you have made any specific legacies. It’s vital to specify to whom the residual legacy goes to, otherwise it can create a partial intestacy in your will – in other words, while the small gifts and legacies would pass according to the will, the residue would be subject to the laws of intestacy, the laws that govern how your estate is shared out in the absence of a will.
8. Save tax with a trust
Inheritance tax is becoming a burden for many families, particularly where the value of a property pushes the value of an estate above the nil rate band for inheritance tax. If you are married, you can include a discretionary trust in your wills, which could save your children more £110,000 in inheritance tax at current rates.
9. Sign your will
Signing your will in the presence of two independent witnesses is the sure way to legally validate your will. The witnesses must not be anyone who is mentioned in the will, nor married to anyone mentioned in the will.
10. Store it safely
Once your will has been correctly signed and witnessed, have it stored in a proper safe storage facility. This will protect it from fire, flood, damage, or loss. Your executors will be provided with a certificate showing them where your will is stored and how to get hold of it if you die. Whatever you do – don’t hide your will. Your will is no good to anyone if it cannot be found after your death.
Having your will properly drawn up will not make the conversation about it with your family any easier, but knowing it’s done can afford you a certain peace of mind that your loved ones are taken care of should you pass.
Get in contact with us today, if you would like to discuss what happens to your estate after you go, with professional will solicitors in Buckinghamshire today.