Will writing: 5 things you should keep in mind

5 key points all clients should keep in mind when writing a will…

 Writing a will is a very difficult process but it is something we all must do to secure the future of our loved ones after we pass away.

A survey from Unbiased recently found about 60% of the UK adult population do not have a will in place. The same percentage thought they did not have sufficient assets to make it worthwhile – this common misconception, alongside a lack of understanding, is leaving many beneficiaries in financial distress.

With proper preparation and the right legal advice writing a will needn’t be a process clients should dread.

Here are five key points to share with clients about the importance of making a will.

1. Seek Professional Advice

Writing a will is a complicated and time-consuming process. Unless you are writing a simple will in which you are leaving all you own to your husband/wife or children it is best to seek advice from will writing service or solicitor. 

Using a specialist will writing service will cost you around £75 to £150. If using a solicitor, you can expect to pay between £150 and £300 for a single will. Any will, including mirror wills will cost you extra. 

It is important to remember that whilst £150 plus might seem like a large amount of money, setting up a professional will can safeguard your future and save you possibly thousands of pounds in tax later in life.

2. Types Of Will 

There are many different wills that you can choose from depending on your circumstances. Four of the main ones are: 

Single will – This is your standard will, ideal for people who are unmarried or those who are but have different requests to their spouse.
Mirror wills – This is a set of two mirroring wills that have identical instructions. It is more cost effective and less time consuming than creating two single wills. You must use mirror wills with caution however as the wills are legally binding themselves but do not legally bind the husband’s will to the wife’s will.
Living will – A living will is slightly different to the previous three, it allows you to give instructions about your care when you are still alive if you are taken ill and unable to communicate them yourself.

3. Mistakes Can Make Your Will Or Gift Invalid 

The most common mistake people can make when writing a will is to not have two witnesses present when the will is being signed this will make your will invalid.

You cannot benefit from any will you have witnessed, nor should your beneficiary witness your will. Although this will not make the will invalid, if a beneficiary witnesses the will or is married to a witness, the gift is void. 

If the will is declared invalid the laws of intestacy will apply. This states that in the event of your death, your spouse or civil partner will receive up to £250,000 of your estate with the rest put in a trust and split between your spouse or civil partner and any children you have. 

If you have no children, your spouse will receive up to £450,000 and any siblings you have will split the remaining money on your estate should you have any.

4. Set Up A Lasting Power Of Attorney

When writing your will it is also worth considering assigning your lasting power of attorney (LPA). A LPA is an additional legal document that guarantees your interests can be taken care of by a relative or trusted friend if you become unable to look after them yourself.  

There are two types of LPA’s 

A property and finance LPA is the legal document that allows your attorney to make decisions about your money, tax, bills, property, pensions and investments. Your attorney has the power to look after your home and buy everything you might need day to day.
A health and welfare LPA is the legal document that allows your attorney to make decisions about your health, medical care, daily routine (washing, eating etc) and where it is best for you to live. They also have the power to buy you new clothes, decorate your home and secure you extra care if required.

If you do not assign a LPA, in the event of you becoming incapacitated, your loved ones will have to go through the Court of Protection to gain these permissions.

This is a difficult and costly process and can be avoided by proper preparation, saving you money and more importantly stress during such a difficult time. 

5. The Effect Of Marriage And Divorce On Your Will

When you marry, any will that you have in place automatically becomes invalid. After you marry you should always create a new will or create a new one just before you marry and make clear that it was made in contemplation of forthcoming marriage.

You must include words along the lines of ‘in anticipation of marriage to (insert name)’ or in contemplation of marriage to (insert name)’. Any beneficial entitlement to the ex-spouse is void unless the will expressly states that it should remain.  

Don’t let a lack of understanding stop you from securing your loved one’s financial future. There are huge benefits to having a will that vastly outweigh the time it takes to get the recommended preparations in place.

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