A Will is a legal document that states what you want to happen to your assets – such as money, investments and property – after you die. If you have children under 18 or dependants, for example a disabled adult child, you can decide who will look after them as well. The will should name the people who benefit from your estate (beneficiaries) but should also clarify who are going to carry out the terms of your will (executors).
There is no set rule for when you need to make a will. Most people assume they only need to do it later in life, but if you have a lot of assets or a family it’s a good idea to do it earlier. Should the worst happen, it’s one less worry for your loved ones if you already have a Last Will and Testament finalised. The sooner you get around to drafting a will, the more time you have. If your circumstances change or you change your mind, you can make amendments later as long as they come with initials, a date, and witness signatures.
Although you can name anyone in your will, there are certain people you may have to provide for. If you wish to leave someone out, be aware they might be able to challenge your will after you pass away, especially if you haven’t given a reason. Under the Provision for Family and Dependants Act 1975, these are the people you have to provide for in your will:
If you do wish to leave such a person out, it might still be possible, but you need to make sure you have given a clear reason for it. It can also be best to make your wishes known to your family while you are still alive. Any person or persons who are left out may be more likely to challenge your will if it comes as a surprise later on.
In addition to the list above, you should also remember to include your pets. Around 40% of UK households have a pet, but many people forget to mention them in their will, assuming their relatives will provide for them. This doesn’t always work out, so make sure you decide who you want to take care of your pet after you pass away, and get their consent.
Many people think that they can write up a will themselves, either with the help of a website or a ‘do-it-yourself’ kit. In reality, it’s easy to make a small mistake that can invalidate your whole will or leave it open for dispute. Some of the more common mistakes include:
Even a close-knit family can end up arguing and falling out over a badly executed will, so it’s important to get a probate and wills specialist to draft one for you.
If you pass away without leaving a will, you become intestate, and the estate will then be shared out according to the rules of intestacy. If you are married or in a civil partnership, your spouse or partner receives a share, as well as any children you have. Other people may be left out, even if you would have liked to leave them something. If you have no spouse, children, or relatives – or if your relatives cannot be found – your entire estate might be passed on to the Crown. If you have no immediate family and would prefer to leave your estate to a friend or a charity, you would have to make a will.
Your Last Will and Testament is one of the most important documents you will ever sign, as it clarifies your final wishes. Everyone has an idea about what they would like to leave behind, but many people never get round to making their own will, or they write a will that isn’t legally sound. When you use a specialist probate solicitor like Romain Coleman to write your will, you don’t leave anything to chance.
With Romain Coleman you can be confident that:
Your final wishes are important, so if you haven’t made a will yet, call the London probate and wills specialists at Romain Coleman on 0208 520 4555 or use our Free Online Enquiry form.