What is a will?
A will is a legal document which contains instructions related to what you would like to happen to your money and possessions after you die. So long as your will is signed and witnessed it will be legally valid. In England and Wales, wills need two witnesses over the age of eighteen to sign off on them and in Scotland, just one witness over the age of sixteen must have seen you sign the will.
It’s possible to create your own will, however, as family members have the potential to challenge wills in court if there are small oversights, such as conflicting information or making one of the witnesses a beneficiary, you may want the peace of mind of using a professional will writing service.
What types of will are there?
There are three different options for making a will. You can choose to:
- Make your own will
- Use a will writing service
- Having a Solicitor write your will
How do I make a will?
You can make a will in any of the above ways, so long as you ensure that it complies with the requirements that validate its legality, such as clarity, accuracy and being signed by the relevant signatories.
Whether you choose to use a will writing service or Solicitor will depend on the complexity of your circumstances, for example, the amount of money or property you have and whether the total value exceeds the threshold where you will need to consider inheritance taxes.
If you need to consider appointing a Power of Attorney or certain protections for some or all of your beneficiaries, and if you have a variety of different bequest types, it’s advisable that you seek professional support in the creation of your will.
What should be included in my will?
Your will should include information about who your beneficiaries will be and which of your personal possessions or assets you would like to leave them. You will also need to appoint an Executor, this is the person who ensures that the demands of your will are carried out once you have passed.
If you have children under the age of eighteen, you should include information about who will look after them. If you are creating a will jointly with a spouse or civil partner, then you will need to consider who will have custody of the children in the event that you both die before your children are eighteen.
It’s also important to consider what would happen to your assets in the event that your beneficiaries die before you do. This may include considering secondary beneficiaries or leaving a gift to charity.
When do I need to review my will?
It’s a good idea to ensure that your will is reviewed and updated every five years, or following any large lifestyle changes, such as:
- Divorce or separation
- Having a child or additional children
- Remarriage – as this will automatically invalidate your existing will
- To amend changes in property or asset ownership
- If your executor is no longer able to perform the function or you would like to change the executor
Should I use a will writing solicitor?
Will writing solicitors offer a range of legal services, including looking at your potential for inheritance tax and helping you to plan your will in a tax efficient way.
If you are considering leaving assets to relatives who lack the mental capacity to manage the responsibility for themselves, due to age or illness, it’s important to speak to experienced solicitors about trusts and estate management.
Using a solicitor who has expertise in the area of will writing will help ensure that your will is fit for purpose, free from mistakes or any ambiguity.
How should I store my will?
It’s important to ensure your will securely and that the executor knows where to find it. There are a number of options available, such as professional will storage companies, local solicitors, and some banks will also hold your will securely for you.
You can also choose to keep your will at home, however, you should always take measures to keep it away from the potential for damage or loss.
How can The Mortgage Brokerage help me?
Here at The Mortgage Brokerage we can offer tailored advice around your will writing needs, whether or not you’re taking out a mortgage with us, although wills are a key factor to consider alongside your mortgage protection needs.
If you need financial advice with regards to inheritance tax planning, we can refer you to trusted advisers who will be able to fulfill your needs. Contact us today to see how we can help you.
Will writing & Powers of Attorney are not part of the Quilter Financial Planning offering and are offered in our own right. Quilter Financial Planning accept no responsibility for these aspects of our business.
Will Writing, Powers of Attorney and Trusts is not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority