Wills can be a touchy subject. Nobody wants to think about what happens when they eventually pass away. This makes it a difficult topic to discuss with family. But you’ll need to consider the process of making a Will to look after your loved ones.
You’ll likely already have an idea of what you want to happen to your assets and belongings when you die. But even if you do, unless you have a Will in place, there is nothing documenting your wishes.
That’s why making a legally binding Will is the only way to ensure your chosen beneficiaries will inherit what you want them to.
Consider what to include
You should start by compiling a list of your assets and what they’re worth. This includes things you may not initially consider, like your pension and any investments you may have. As well as the obvious assets – like your home and savings – think about some of the more sentimental belongings you own.
Do you have any photographs you want to leave to someone in particular? What about costume jewellery that didn’t cost much but means a lot to one of your relatives? These items may not have a great deal of financial worth but do have huge value to you.
Once you know what you want to include in your Will, you need to decide who to leave it to. You might choose to leave everything to your partner or split your estate evenly between your children or grandchildren. You can leave anything you want to whoever you choose – family members, friends, even charities and other organisations.
Signing and witnessing
For a Will to be valid, it has to be written, signed by you and witnessed by two different people. You also need to have the mental capacity to understand the effect the Will is going to have. You also need to have made the Will voluntarily, under no pressure from anyone else.
You’ll need to sign your Will in the presence of your witnesses, and they will have to sign it with you present. It’s important to carry this step out correctly or your Will won’t be legally valid and your wishes might not be adhered to. Your witnesses cannot be named as beneficiaries in your Will.
As well as choosing your witnesses, you’ll have to choose an executor. This is typically a friend or family member who you trust. It’s typically best practice to choose at least two different executors. This means if one of your executors dies before they can carry out their duties, you have someone who can take the reins.
Updating your Will
Once you’ve made your Will, you might think that’s the end of the process. However, you will need to keep an eye on it and ensure you update it whenever your circumstances change. It’s generally advisable to review your Will every five years.
Any major life change will need to be recorded. If you get married or divorced, your spouse passes away, someone named in your Will dies or you have a child or grandchild, you should amend your Will accordingly. You should also update the document when your financial circumstances change. If you move home, cash in your investments or invest in a business, you’ll need to review your Will.
When you make a new Will, don’t forget to destroy the original document. If you don’t, two versions of it will exist and both may be referred to. This will lead to confusion at what is already a stressful time for your loved ones.
A legally binding Will ensures your family will be looked after when the time comes. The peace of mind that comes with knowing you have one in place is invaluable.