You may own property, shares, savings, investments and personal belongings, these are known as your ‘estate’. Creating a will ensures that your estates are distributed according to your will. According to a survey by the charity Will Aid, more than half of British adults haven’t made a will. However, writing a will is one of the most important things you’ll ever do!
Writing a will is beneficial for a number of reasons, it will make it much easier for friends and family when you die to sort everything out in the eventuality of your death. Furthermore, if you fail to write a will your estate will not be shared as you may have wished, it will instead be shared out in a standard way defined by the law. Writing a will can help reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax that may payable on the value of the property and money you leave behind. Finally, writing a will is important if you have children or other family members who are financially dependant on you.
It is important to write a will in a number of situations, firstly; unmarried partners and those who have not registered a civil partnership will be unable to inherit from each other if there is no will in place. Moreover, where children are involved provisions will need to be made in the event that one or both parents die. And whilst there is no need for a will to be drawn up by a solicitor, it is advisable, however, to use a solicitor to write a will in order to avoid misunderstandings and mistakes and consequently mean that the will is invalid.
If you are in any doubt whether you should write a will, it is advisable to talk to a solicitor.
Should you use a solicitor?
It is advisable to consult a solicitor to ensure that your will has the desired effect if the process is complex. For example, if you share a property with someone who is not your married partner, moreover, if you wish to make provisions for a dependant who is unable to care for themselves it is generally advisable to discuss writing your will with a solicitor because these are considered complex matters and if not properly written it may cause the will to be ineffective and consequently invalid. It is also recommended to consult a solicitor if your permanent home is not in the UK or if you are ordinarily resident in the UK but there is overseas property involved.
Some common errors when drawing up a will include:
- Altering the will. If alterations are not witnessed they are invalid.
- Not taking account of all the money and property and possessions available
- Being unaware of the formal requirements required to make a will legally valid
- Not taking account of the fact a beneficiary may die before the person making the will
- Not aware of the effect a marriage, registered civil partnership, divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership may have on the will
- Being unaware of the rules in place to enable dependants to claim the estate if they believe they are not adequately provided for
Consulting a solicitor will ensure that everything is drafted and signed correctly, as well as providing safe storage for a will. You can also appoint a solicitor to be the executor of the will. You should be aware, however, that using a solicitor is costly and can range from £150- £500.
The benefits of using a solicitor are that you are protected if something goes wrong, you can be more confident that there are no misunderstandings as the solicitor will be aware of any legal misunderstandings and correct them. The final advantage is that using a solicitor will provide safe storage and ensure that the will does not get lost.