It’s never too early to get your affairs in order. While writing a will is mainly thought of as something to do when you are terminally ill or elderly, it’s good to have the relevant conversations, and get a will written at any time, at any age. As soon as you have some assets in your name and some family members or specific people that you want to leave them to, then it’s good to formalise your wishes because if you die without a will, there are certain rules that dictate how your property is shared and they may not be what you would have wanted…
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that even young people cannot absolutely rely on their ongoing good health. You never know what is around the corner, and it’s good to be prepared.
Writing it Yourself
Your will is one of the most personal things you will ever write. You will need to think quite hard about exactly what you would like to happen to your money, property, and dependant children in the event of your death. Most wills will also contain your instructions as to whether you would prefer to be buried or cremated and anything specific about your funeral, as it’s a good idea to think about that too.
For many people, these are horrible things to think about and they are difficult to discuss too. But if you are hesitant, think of how much more horrible would it be if you did die suddenly and your family did not automatically receive the things that you wanted them to. So you really have got to take some time to imagine the worst, and you need to specify in writing exactly what happens next for the people you care about.
Just writing a simple list of what you want is just the start though. Although you don’t absolutely have to use a solicitor to help you write your will, there are many benefits in doing so. This will ensure that any legal ambiguities are declared and defined clearly using the correct terminology. You can ensure your will is guaranteed by hiring a law firm like Ellisons Solicitors. Legal companies can assist you in all manner of will writing, including asset discovery, declarations, and witnessing.
Legal issues that aren’t clear can drag out a will issue, such as inheritance. This means your wishes can be contested if not appropriately stated. There need to be sufficient grounds for a will to be contested, such as proof that a will is not valid, you were of unsound mind or were influenced somehow.
Keeping Only Copies
Your will is a legal document, and as such, upon your death, the original copy is required before proceedings can begin. It is challenging for your estate executors to obtain probate and start managing your affairs using only copies of your will. This is because there is no way to determine the legality of the information contained in a copy. This could be easily falsified or might be a copy of an older will before you updated your original.
In this case, you should always ensure that someone knows where the original will is stored. This ensures your family can get on with the difficult task of managing your estate according to your wishes, without inhibition. If required, your lawyer will hold on to the original copy of your will if you don’t trust someone around you to do so. Then, upon your death, your legal counsel can present your will to your family.
Using Invalid Witnesses
A significant part of much legal documentation is the requirement to have witnesses. Witnesses are needed for a will verification, specific contracts and other legal standings. When it comes to your will, you of course need to sign it. This is to declare that you were of sound mind at the time and that you were under no one’s influence.
But, of course, you can be influenced by this. Therefore, two witnesses are required to verify that this is indeed the case.
However, it isn’t uncommon for invalid witnesses to be used. Witnesses to a will signing must be independent and stand to gain nothing upon the execution of your wishes. Typically, witnesses must be over 18. First, they must witness you signing your will, and then you must witness them also signing it. An excellent example of a will-signing witness would be a long-standing friend, to whom you leave nothing, but they can confirm it was you who signed and not someone else.
Writing a will can be a daunting prospect. However, if you have a full and frank discussion with your partner if you have one, and then hire an advisor to help you to draft your wishes in the correct form, it can be simple and straightforward. Once the will is signed and witnessed, and you have stored it in a place where your next of kin know where to find it, then you may find it’s quite a relief.
And don’t worry – if your circumstances change then you can always amend your will, adding or removing sections as you see fit.