Sometimes it’s natural to baulk at the idea of doing things because of a thought they’re going to be difficult. The thing is, that means putting them off longer than it would take to understand them and is most often the case important tasks, such as making a will. Here are some practical tips on how to approach this successfully.
Gather the information to understand what you can leave
To be able to form a will you have to have some idea of what would constitute your estate. Essentially this is all the things you want to leave behind and includes property, savings in banks or bonds, insurance and pensions, cars, jewellery and other household items of value. You should get all these valued and offset the total against any current mortgage, credit or equity release that would be payable on your death.
Find the right service
Once you have all the information and a clear idea of your wishes you can formalise it in a few different ways. The traditional way is to see a solicitor with knowledge of wills and probate to draw things up and legalise it, though there are other options available. Professional will writing services are just as useful – and often cheaper – if you would prefer something that is generally provided at a fixed cost. E.L.M’s legal services and others in this field of online wills can personalise your wishes quickly and efficiently while still complying with all legal requirements. Your bank or a charity may even provide this service but often they will expect to be an executor or receive a financial reward in the will itself so you should consider if this is appropriate. Lastly, you could write the will yourself, however, unless your circumstances are very straightforward, this may cause problems when dealing with your estate.
Nominate trusted executor(s)
With a whole host of complex family structures in today’s society, you must choose an executor or executors – those responsible for the dividing of your estate after you are gone – sure to carry out your instructions with compassion, and as you wish. Too often there are family disputes over this matter at an already emotional time so considering a trusted person(s) outside the close family could be advisable. Executors can be beneficiaries of the will so you can appoint family but consulting them to check they’re prepared to take the role is something you should do beforehand. A person can be liable if any aspect of the day-to-day administration between your death and the division of your assets is incorrect.
Regularly check and update
It is a good idea to review your will regularly. It doesn’t have to be a task; minor changes can be added using ‘codicils’. These set out the changes you are making to your will, with the remaining unchanged sections of your will staying in place. It must be signed and witnessed like the rest of your will but is a simple process. Should you marry or enter a civil partnership, a will becomes invalid unless you’ve made special reference to this. You should otherwise make a new will. Similarly, divorce does not automatically invalidate a will but reference to your former partner will not be effective. It is therefore usually necessary to change in these circumstances too.