Not writing a will would mean that your assets get declared intestate and distributed according to the intestacy laws in the UK, when you have passed on. Your estate being distributed intestate would mean monetary and emotional stress for your family and/or beneficiaries. If you are looking to protect your family from financial instability even after your death, your decision to write a will is highly important.
The laws guiding wills are pretty much the same across the UK, and to ensure that your will is not declared invalid by a probate court, it is important to fully understand the laws guiding will writing. With a will, you have a legal document that allows you as the testator, to declare and state your wishes on how your assets should be distributed. Generally, writing a will is a part of estate planning that allows you to make arrangements to ensure the financial stability of your family after your demise.
This article is a guide on the importance of a will and how you can write your will. It is aimed at helping you understand the importance placed on your decision to write a will and how you can write your will yourself without having it declared invalid.
Importance of a will
Writing a will gives you the assurance that your assets are distributed and managed according to your wishes. That family heirloom or business is not likely to fall into the wrong hands because you have explicitly stated that it should be handed over to someone who can effectively manage it in your last testament. The good thing about a will, as long as it is valid, is that it is bound legally and can’t be changed without your consent. It means that your wishes are carried out as you have stated them if the will is valid and no one is unable to contest it.
Writing a will allows you to make provisions for your family, especially your spouse and children after your demise. With your will you can name a legal guardian for your minor children(if you have any). It would be the duty of the guardian to ensure the care of your children until they are of legal age. Your will also protects your family from the trauma and expenses of intestacy.
With your will, you are allowed to exempt family members you don’t want receiving parts of your assets from your will. You should however note that some family members, like your spouse are protected by the law and you have to include them in your will. Trying to exempt your spouse, for example, will take a lot of paperwork and processes so it’s best to contact a solicitor for help.
Writing your will
Writing a will can be a pretty easy and straightforward process especially if you know what you are doing and why you are required to know. If you are deciding to write your will yourself, it is important to make sure you understand all there is to know about the process. Understand the laws that guide writing laws and how to effectively write a valid will. Below is our compilation of what you should do when writing your own will:
- Decide if you want to type out your will or use a do-it-yourself will template. Typically, you can handwrite your will in the UK. However, unless you’re a will writing specialist, you will likely end up creating a void document. Using a will template is also a simple and pretty inexpensive method to use. All you have to do is fill out the forms and after you are done, you print out your will and sign it. Your will would be available within minutes.
- If you are writing your will, you start by writing the introduction. It is important for your will to have the introductory body. In this part of the will, you have to clearly label the document as your last will and testament as this would show that you do not have any other document, that could render it invalid. You have to state that the will revokes the effect of all other wills and codicil documents that you might have written before. You should state your full name, the fact that you are 18 years or above, are of sound mind and are not being forced or influenced by anyone to write the will. It is not compulsory, but for clarity, you can decide to include your date of birth or your National Insurance Number (NIN).
- Decide on and discuss with whom you are naming as your executor. It is usually your executor’s duty to take up the responsibility of your finances and to ensure that your wishes are carried out appropriately. Although this aspect is necessary, it is usually not compulsory as the probate court can name an executor on your behalf, if you didn’t do it. Naming an executor is not difficult, you can choose to name your spouse or a friend as an executor.
- Identify your beneficiaries. Typically, your spouse and children are usually your primary beneficiaries and they are mostly protected by the law; they have to be included in your will, whether you like it or not. You are to ensure that you clearly state your beneficiaries, in order to avoid ambiguity. You can choose to name charity organizations, friends, relatives and whoever pleases you as your beneficiaries.
- Assess you assets. You are required to list out all your assets in your will. You should note that assets that are jointly owned should not be listed as yours. Divide your assets among your heirs, you are expected to give a percentage of your assets to each of your heirs. For instance, you can state that you are giving 50% of your assets to your spouse.
- Sign the will. After you have written the will, you have to sign it appropriately. Some states laws for writing wills state that you should sign each page of the document and the signature should come after the last words in each page. Usually, with laws like this, any word that comes after the signature would be disregarded.
- Get witnesses and have them sign the will. Usually, you are supposed to get two witnesses for this step to ensure the validity. Interestingly, the two witnesses cannot be beneficiaries of the will.
Understanding how to write your will is a very important step to writing your will yourself. If you are unsure about how to write your will and you have a peculiar legal or financial situation, it is important to get the services of a professional solicitor who can help you understand the laws and help you work out all necessary legal issues related.