In simple terms, a Will is a way of letting your family, friends or even organisations (such as charities) know what your wishes are upon your death. These wishes are most commonly concerned with how your estate is to be divided up. This includes the amount of money you wish a family member to receive from your estate or the appointment of guardians for your minor children.
Who Can Make a Will?
Anyone over the age of 18 can make a Will and this can be done either by you or with professional help from a solicitor, professional Will writer or a financial adviser that has the relevant support and resources. In order for a Will to be legal it must be signed and dated in the presence of two witnesses who also sign the document. It is important to note that witnesses cannot be anyone who you wish to benefit from your Will.
Can I Write a Will Myself?
If you choose to make a Will yourself without guidance from a professional body, there is no set structure you need to follow. You can simply write down your intentions on a piece of paper and this should be valid, once it has been signed and dated by you and two witnesses. People should only consider writing a Will themselves if their intentions are straightforward, clearly defined and unlikely to be contested in a court of law.
What Information Should I Include?
The alternative most common method of writing a Will is usually with a solicitor. The procedure will involve a detailed format which will include the following information required as standard: - Name, date of birth, address, marital status, executors and guardians, beneficiaries of legacies (both material and monetary), and who the estate is to pass to on death.
In addition, you can include reserve beneficiaries in a Will or specifically exclude people from benefiting from a Will (to reinforce any prior marital separation for example). You can even specify preferences in terms of organ donation and any particular requirements for your funeral.
The Benefits of Hiring Professionals
Whilst using a professional organisation will come at a cost, it will often be more thorough and leave no stone unturned. When writing your own Will there’s a chance that you forget a crucial piece of information, which can lead to complications further down the line. There may arise possible loopholes that could be exploited on death. Professional advice may bring things to your attention that haven’t considered.
Still Need Help?
We at Charles James pride ourselves on offering professional friendly advice to discuss your requirements and help you to draft your Will. Making a Will can be a difficult process, however we are here to help you and provide you with peace of mind. If you would like to speak with one of our independent financial advisers at Charles James, please call 01246 296060.
Article by Graham Atkin, Adviser Support Manager for Charles James Financial Planning Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority