What is a Will?
A Will is a legal document which shows how you want your estate to be dealt with once you have passed away. To maximise the likelihood that your wishes are carried out, your Will must be in writing and must comply with certain formalities, for example, you must be 18 years of age (some exceptions apply if you are in active military service) If your will does not meet these standards, your instructions may not be carried out.
Why make a will?
Your Will spells out exactly how you would like your assets handled after you've passed and can include who will be guardians of your minor children.
It's not a legal requirement in the UK to have a Will, although your estate can be classed as 'intestate' if you don't have one. The law will then decide who gets your assets. In result of this your estate would be passed on to people within your family as of right and you may not have wanted your estate distributed in such a way.
What is involved in making a will?
1. Taking the information and getting advice on how best to structure the Will
2. Drafting your Will
3. Signing the Will - This is an essential process because if this not done correctly, your Will may not be valid
Why use a solicitor when creating a will?
Using a solicitor will prevent any mistakes that would lead to your will being invalid. If your beneficiaries and finances are complicated it is even more necessary a solicitor can provide clarity and peace of mind that your solicitor is fully regulated and insured.
Circumstances when it is recommended to use a solicitor:
- You share a house with someone who isn't your husband, wife or civil partner.
- Your permanent home is not in the United Kingdom.
- There is business involved.
- Multiple family members who may make a claim on your Will, for example, a second wife or children from a first marriage.
- You live in the United Kingdom, but you have properties overseas.
Your solicitor will need to know the following when drafting your will:
- Executors of your Will – these are the people who will carry out your wishes after your death, these could be family, friends or a professional such as a solicitor (using a solicitor as an executor will incur fees)
- What you own such as property (in the UK and overseas), money, vehicles, savings, bonds/shares
- Who you wish to leave your assets too
- Other wishes you may have such as funeral wishes
- Legal guardians for children under the age of 18 years of age
- You can also include gifts within your Will
Can you change your will?
You can make adjustments to your Will after it has been signed and witnessed, by creating an official alteration called a codicil. For significant changes, you should make a new Will and explain that it invalidates all previous wills and codicils.
If you'd like to speak to one of our Wills solicitors in Essex or begin creating your Will, please contact us.