It made the news when the beloved musician Prince died without leaving a will. Of course it’s natural that there is going to be a lot of complexity over the estate of a multi-millionaire pop star with a number of people trying to stake their claim. However, it’s worth noting that any time someone dies without making a will it can leave a lot of hassle behind for their family and loved ones.
Your will is your guide to exactly what you want to happen after you have passed away. If you don’t provide a will then the decisions on what happens to your estate will be left up to the law and it might not be exactly what you want.
Make it easier for everyone
Whenever someone dies it can be a very upsetting time. Your family will already have so much to think about over this difficult period, not leaving a will only makes the process more time consuming and stressful. Anything that will make things easier for your loved ones will undoubtedly be a benefit, so it’s really worth getting it done.
If there is anyone who is dependent on you financially, writing a will is absolutely imperative. You might imagine it would be obvious who is entitled to parts of your estate but without a will it can take a significant amount of time for money and possessions to be distributed properly.
Ensure your wishes are carried out
Fundamentally your will is used to tell people two things. Firstly it explains who is entitled to your money, possessions and property. Secondly, it gives instructions for who is going to be the executor of your will – this is the person who will carry out the instructions laid out in your will.
Without this kind of information it will be very difficult to establish where your estate should go and who should have the control to distribute it. Your will also includes instructions for your burial or cremation.
Ensure it is legally valid
There are a lot of misconceptions about what constitutes validity in relation to your will. It’s important to know that your will does not need to be written in complex legal terms however there are a few conditions it needs to fulfil to be considered valid.
It needs to be signed and dated by you with two independent witnesses who are adults who also sign it. The witness aren’t allowed to anyone who inherits anything from you (or the husband/wife/civil partner of someone who inherits from you).
The will also needs to state clearly what should happen to your possessions, property and money when you die. As long as it satisfies this criteria then it is considered legally binding.
How to make a will
Making a will can be relatively complicated if you have a large family or a number of people who you want to include within it. But if you are in this situation, it’s a much better idea to get the will created rather than leaving that complexity for someone else to sort out.
Before you get started on your will it can be a very wise move to talk through the details with your family. They will almost certainly think of something you have not considered that would be important for your will. You can them get in contact with a solicitor or a will writing service if you wish to have it created professionally.
Finally, it’s also a good idea to review your will after any major life events. If you get married, divorced, have a child or more houses – this can be the ideal time to go through your will to see if it still covers all the important issues.
Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer working together with South East England based law-firm George Ide, who were consulted over the information in this post.