Making sure you have a will and that it’s up to date is so important yet many people find it a difficult thing to discuss. It’s easier to put it off yet drafting a will is usually very simple to do.
My Father is a good example of someone who couldn’t decide how his possessions should be distributed after he dies. He also associated writing a will with his death, an innocent but irrational belief. After numerous prompts from me he eventually succumbed and at 78 had his will drafted by a local solicitor. Not only does he now know how is possessions will be distributed when he dies, he has built in a provision to protect part of his property should he die before my mother and she subsequently needs care. His share of the property will be excluded from any care funding assessment if that becomes necessary.
Even if you have a will, it’s a good idea to check it accurately reflects how you would like your things distributed after you’ve gone. Relying on a ‘one-time’ will can be just as costly as not having one. If you want a particular item to go to someone, you need to specify that in your will otherwise it risks being sold to provide cash to distribute. If you’re not married to your partner, you need a will to make sure your assets pass to each other.
As my Father discovered, talking through his concerns with a professional who is not only experienced at drafting wills but also dealing with the estate after you die can make writing your will so much easier. Here’s my tips to simplify making your will:
- Speak to a Solicitor who specialises in Wills and Probate. Not only will you benefit from their expertise but all Solicitors back their work wth professional insurance giving you the peace of mind that if there is a problem with your will in the future, your family isn’t left with a mess.
- If you have a will, ask yourself if it still does the job you wanted it to do when you drafted it. Are there planning opportunities that could now be considered like my Father discovered?
- Not sure which Solicitor to speak to? Start by checking the Law Society register http://solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk/It’ll let you filter Solicitors who specialise in Wills and Probate in your area giving a shortlist of firms to contact.
DIY wills might seem attractive certainly from a cost perspective but as this article demonstrates, they can very easily prove expensive in the long run.
But while an off-the-shelf will may seem very attractive at this price, it can be a risky approach: if errors are made, or if the strict witnessing rules are not followed correctly, the document could be invalid. The implications of that can be serious. Not only do you risk leaving your family with a financial and emotional mess, but your legacy could be eaten away by legal bills or unnecessary tax.