Writing a Will ensures your estate is distributed according to your final wishes and can include other important decisions such as who should look after your children should you die before they reach maturity. Despite this, many people do not have a Will in place. Estate planning is something people tend to put off but it's important to protect you and your loved ones’ future. Writing a Will can be a straightforward process if you have a relatively small estate, without family or financial complications.
DIY Wills are particularly prone to mistakes, and a large amount of Wills are deemed invalid every year because of errors. Most commonly, the errors are with the execution of the document itself.
Legal Requirements for Will Writing
Before you sit down to write your Will, you must be clear about what the legal requirements for writing a Will are; otherwise, you run the risk of it being declared invalid. Below are some of the main areas DIY Will writers fall down on:
- Ensuring the document is signed by a witness
- The beneficiary signs as a witness: it must be someone other than a beneficiary
- Ensuring the testator (you) signs the Will properly
- Being careful not to staple your Will as this could nullify its contents
- Any additions to a Will are to be done in the appropriate manner, with a codicil, and not simply attached or handwritten into the Will
- Not including all your assets
The main aim of a Will is to have control over how your assets are distributed when you die. If you've written a Will but omitted to include some of your assets, they automatically become subject to the rules of intestacy. This means your estate will not be distributed as you wish, and your loved ones will have to deal an expensive and costly probate process. If you are in any doubt with how you should write your Will, get in touch with an expert.
Your Will & Your Family Circumstances
If your circumstances change, if you get married, your Will automatically becomes invalid unless it expressly stipulates it has been written in contemplation of marriage. Omitting to review your Will every few years, or after marriage, divorce or a new baby can end up being just as costly as not having one at all.d
Choosing an Executor
It is important to consider your executor carefully. After all, this is the person who will be in charge of administering your estate and distributing it amongst your beneficiaries, so ensure it is both someone you can trust, and someone with good organisational skills as they will be taking care of your accounts and be responsible for paying any taxes due.
Choosing a Guardian
Where you are the parent of a young child, appointing a guardian for them should you and your partner die before they reach maturity is an often overlooked, but highly important consideration. Failure to do so may mean someone is appointed by the Court who you may not necessarily have chosen, and it can sometimes mean your children will go into social care services until the Court makes the appointment. As well as someone you would trust to care for your children, Looking at factors such as the potential guardian's personal family situation, whether they hold the same beliefs or values as you do, and their geographical location is also important.
DIY Wills at Legacy Wills & Estate Planning
If you are looking to write your own Will, we can help. For simple estates, our DIY Will kits can be an attractive and cost-effective option. If you wish to speak to us about estate planning or are thinking about reviewing your existing Will, our friendly and knowledgeable advisers would be delighted to hear from you. Contact us today on 0345 260 0600 or get in touch via our online contact form.