What is a Will?
According to Gov.uk, a will is a document that lets you decide what happens to your property, money and possessions after the event of your death. A will can also make sure you don’t pay more inheritance tax than what you would need to. When writing a will, you can write a will yourself, but it is recommended by the government that you seek legal advice to make sure your will will be interpreted in the way that you wrote it. Your will needs to be formally witnessed and signed to make it legally binding.
One important fact to note is that a will may change from country to country so it is important that you get legal advice from a geographically relevant lawyer.
Most people use a will as an instruction on how to divide their assets, but you can also use a will to:
- Name the executor
- Appoint a new guardian for children and their properties
- Decide on how your debts and/or taxes will be handle
- Instructions for pets
- Can also be used as a back up plan to a living trust
There are a few things that are not recommended to do when writing a will and they are:
- Try not to put a condition in your gifts, for example I will give my house to Ben if he finishes university.
- Leaving instructions for final arrangements
- It is high not recommended to leave your property to your pet, you will be surprised how many people do it.
Why is it important to make a will?
Making a will is a very important step to ensuring that the people you love get what you want them to from your possession should anything happen to you. This is not only a matter of possession but also well-being and health in the case of children and pets.
- If you pass without a will there are certain rules which dictate how the money is allocated, this may not be the way you want it.
- Unmarried partners cannot inherit from each other unless there is a will, the death of one of the partner in this case may create a serious financial issue.
- It is important for children so they are taken care of.
- It is possible to reduce the amount of tax payable on inheritance tax if advice is taken in advance and a will is made
The legal requirements of a will
There are a few basic requirements for a will to be valid and they are as follows:
- They must have been made by a person of 18 years old or over
- The will was made voluntarily and without pressure of any kind from another person
- They will must also have been made by a person of sound mind and fully aware of the nature of the document they are writing and/or signed and are aware that the properties, assets and money will go to that individual.
- Must be in writing
- Signed by the individual making the will in the presence of two witnesses
- The signature of the two witnesses is also compulsory, in the presence of the individual making the will.The Witness or the married partner of a witness cannot benefit from the will they are witnessing, if the witness is a beneficiary, the will is still valid but the beneficiary will not be able to inherit under the will.
You can have a will without it being dated, but it is still recommended that it is dated, and also the date that the document was signed. The moment the document has been signed and witnessed, the document is complete.
Where to keep the will
The will should be kept in a safe place with no other documents attached to it. Here are a few places that you should keep your will at:
- At home
- With a solicitor or accountant
- At a bank