Possibly one of the most important documents you will need in your lifetime.
What Is a Will?
A will is a legal document that sets out your wishes for the distribution of your assets and the care of any minor children on your death.
What Is a Living Will?
A living will has nothing to do with the distribution of assets, but sets out your wishes for medical care in terms of life support should you be incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself.
Why Do I Need a Will?
Creating a will gives you sole discretion over the distribution of your assets. It lets you decide how your belongings, such as cars or family heirlooms, should be distributed. If you have a business or investments, your will can direct the smooth transition of those assets.
What Does A Will cover?
While wills generally address the bulk of your assets, there are a variety of items that are not covered by the instructions in a will. These items include community property, proceeds from life-insurance policy payouts, retirement assets, assets owned as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, and investment accounts that are designated as “transfer on death.”
What Happens If I Don’t Have A Will?
If you do not have a will, you die intestate. In such a case, the state will oversee the distribution of your assets. Contrary to popular opinion, the state does not inherit your assets, but rather distributes them according to a set formula.
How Do I Get a Will?
You can get a will drafted by a specialist will writer or a solicitor. The Institute of professional will writers has a list of all members qualified to draft a will https://www.ipw.org.uk.
When you are ready to prepare a will, compile a list of your assets and debts. Be sure to include the contents of safe deposit boxes, items of sentimental value, family heirlooms and other assets that you wish to transfer to a particular person or entity.
How Can I Change My Will?
Changing your will is easy. Simply write a new will to replace the old one, or make an addition using an amendment known as a codicil. Ideally, you want to make any changes when you are of sound mind and in good health. This limits the likelihood that your wishes can be successfully challenged and avoids decisions made in haste or under intense emotional pressure.
What Do I Do with It Once It’s Done?
Creating your will is only the first step. It is important that your executor or professional adviser is aware of your will and has a copy. Your wishes can only be carried out if they are known. Ensuring your will is in capable hands will mean it is available when it is needed. Take care in appointing your executor.
How Much Does A Will Cost?
This will be dependant on the complexity of your circumstance but typically starts from around £250. Additional annual charges usually apply if you wish to have your will stored securely by a professional firm.
The Bottom Line
Making a will is a necessary and often a fairly simple process – the proper drafting of a Will can save your family time, money and disagreement, at what will be a difficult time for them. It will also give you peace of mind that your affairs are dealt with as you wish.
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A will is essential for anyone who owns significant assets like property or shares.