Writing a will allows you to relay your wishes when it comes to who gets what from your wealth after you die. It also allows you to express how much you care about your loved ones and beneficiaries. Writing a will becomes particularly important if you realise the consequences of dying without a will. Dying without a will is known as dying intestate. Having to deal with the intestacy process can be a gruelling process for your loved ones.
Many people do not write a will because they do not know how to go about writing it. In fact, research carried out by Royal London has shown that over 5 million adult citizens in the United Kingdom do not know how to go about writing a will. It is really important therefore to educate yourself on how to write a will and the reasons why it is so important, as the consequences of not doing so are so far reaching.
Just as important is understanding how to write a will that is not declared legally invalid when it is read in probate court. Whilst making sure you get your will right can be daunting, it is important to note that as long as your wealth and assets are pretty straightforward, writing your will can be a pretty straightforward process too.
If you are confident you understand the legal jargon that is involved in writing a will, it is perfectly possible to write one simply online. However, if you aren’t confident about your understanding of the process, getting a certified solicitor to do it for you is a smart idea.
This article is aimed at helping you understand how you can go about writing on your own will. The following are some things you should note when you want to write you will:
- First, decide if you are making a handwritten document or if you would rather have it printed. If you make a printed will, there are online will templates and software you can use to fill in all your details. When you use a will template, all you have to do is follow the instructions on the forms and fill in the appropriate detail into the provided spaces. When you have successfully done that, you just print out the forms and you have your will.
- Write the introductory part of the will. You will need to clearly label your will as your ‘Last Will and Testament’. You need to include your name, your age and address, the testamentary intent as well as your testamentary capacity. It should be indicated in the will that this is your final will and testament and it revokes every other will or codicil documents that have been previously written. You can also include your date of birth and your social security number as a means to identify yourself.
- Decide on who you want your executor to be and clearly name that person in your will. It is the work of your executor to ensure that your last wishes are correctly carried out. Typically, people choose their spouse as executor if they are married, or you can go with a trusted friend or family member. You will need to have discussed the situation with your executor before you name them as such. You will need to make sure they are willing to take on the role and you should also name an alternate executor in case the primary one is unable to carry out his/her duties.
- Decide on your heirs/beneficiaries. Typically your children, spouse, close relatives and friends will be your beneficiaries. You are however allowed to make provisions for whomever you like to inherit from you. You can even make provisions for a pet or for a charitable organisation to be your beneficiary. Whatever you decide, ensure that you clearly indicate who your beneficiaries are so there isn’t any ambiguity as to their identities when the will is being read.
- If you have children who are legally recognised as minors, you should select a guardian whose duty is to take care of your minor or dependent children in the case of your death. Usually, the surviving parent will be their guardian but in cases where there is no natural parent alive or present in their lives, ensure that you pick a guardian to look after them until they reach an independent age. As in the case of the executor, you should discuss with the guardian before naming them as the guardian of your children. If you are unable to name a guardian, the court will name one on your children’s behalf, so it’s better to name one of your choosing.
- Work out the value of all your property and assets. When you have assessed all you have, divide your estate either by percentage between your beneficiaries, or by naming individual assets that should be passed to each person.
- After the completion of your will, sign each page of the document. It’s important to note that in cases where you are to sign at the end of the document, anything that is written after the signature will be disregarded in court.
- Have your witnesses sign your will too. You must have two witnesses whose duty is to attest that they were present when you signed the will and you were of sound mind when you wrote the will. Your witnesses should not be your beneficiaries, or family members of beneficiaries. Ensure that you avoid making any mistakes with the signing process, so that your will won’t be declared invalid.
It’s even easier to create a will as you can start your will online, you must ensure that you research well and understand all the legal requirements placed on you when writing a will in the UK, as any mistakes could render your will invalid after your death. Should this happen, those you wish to inherit from you may miss out and your estate could be passed to someone you did not intend to inherit from you. Get the help of a legal professional if you are not confident in your ability to write an error-free and valid will.