There are numerous reasons why many people don’t have a will.
As a society we generally avoid talking about anything that involves our own mortality, some find the prospect of making a will a bit daunting and others think doing so might bring them bad luck.
Some feel it is unnecessary as they are too young to need a will, or think that their assets will be distributed in accordance with their wishes regardless of whether they have one.
But there are compelling reasons why you should have a will. It determines how property, savings and other personal possessions should be shared among loved ones and other organisations such as charities for example.
Passing away without a will leaves those close to you in the dark over who should receive your assets and your wishes with regard to funeral arrangements. This uncertainty can lead to emotional and legal issues involving family members who may disagree on how to divide up your estate.
If you haven’t got a will and aren’t really sure where to start, it makes sense to consult a solicitor, who can guide you through the process.
The first thing to do is decide who will inherit your property, financial assets and other possessions – these are the beneficiaries of your estate. You should also consider how any children you have should be cared for, what your funeral arrangements should be and any charitable donations you would like to be made on your behalf.
You will also need to identify an executor who is responsible for dealing with your estate. This should be someone that you trust to fulfil your wishes once you are gone. Most people pick family members, friends or even a solicitor as an executor, and while it is not necessary to appoint more than one executor it is advisable to do so, for example, in case one of them passes away.
The role of executor can be very time-consuming as it requires dealing with a significant amount of paperwork and often settling debts, taxes, funeral and administration costs from the money in the estate. They will need to distribute property, financial assets and other possessions to the beneficiaries.
In order for a will to be valid, it must meeting the following criteria:
- made by a person who is at least 12 years old
- made voluntarily and without pressure from any other person
- made in writing
- signed by the person making the will on every page in front of a witness
The person making the will and the witness to the signing should both be of sound mind, meaning they must be fully aware of the nature of the document being written or signed and aware of the property and the identity of the people who may inherit. A witness can be anyone who is not a beneficiary of the will, often a friend or solicitor.
A will becomes valid as soon as it has been signed and witnessed. Most solicitors will keep the original and provide you with a copy for your own records, which you should store in a safe place.
So, in short, the reasons why you should have a will definitely outweigh the reasons for not having one and I hope this blog provides some useful information if it is something you haven’t considered before.
Fulton’s has many years of experience helping our clients to draw up a will – contact us today if you would like to discuss your own will.