What should I include in my Will?

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Your will sets in law who gets what when you die, and who will be responsible for dealing with your Will (your executors).

A will is the legal document that allows you to set out your wishes for the distribution of your assets when you die. It also allows you to appoint your executors (the people who will ‘administer’ your estate), and to also appoint guardians to any children you have (under the age of 18 years old).

What should I include in my Will?

For most common clauses to be included in a will made in the UK will include:-

  • Executors – the people who will deal with your estate for you when you die.
  • Trustees – a bit like executors, but they hold money on trust after the estate is finished for example if you have minor beneficiaries in your will (children) who will not inherit their share of your estate straight away
  • Guardians – the person or people you choose to look after the day to day care of your children.  A guardian appointment only applies where both legal parents die before your children reach 18 years old.
  • Cash legacies – these are fixed cash sums.  Generally, they are ‘token’ amounts with the bulk of your estate being dealt with under the ‘residuary estate’ clause (see below)
  • Gifts of items – you can bequeath certain items under the terms of your will for example “I give my Rolex Submariner watch to my friend Joe Blogs of 1 High Street, Townshire”.
  • Residuary estate – this is the bulk of your estate and is usually dealt with as a whole or percentages, for example “I give the whole of my estate to the RSPCA”
  • Funeral wishes – your will is a legal document and is intended to bind your executors in law to carry your legal instructions.  The funeral arrangements you want are simply the expression of wishes and as such do not need to be included in the will itself.  They are often dealt with under a separate ‘letter of wishes’ which is easier for you to change without involving your solicitor.

Do you have to register a will in the UK?

There is currently NO requirement to register a will during your lifetime.  The only point it is registered with an official body is after we die when your executors apply for Probate.

When should I write my Will?

You should write your will when you are fit and well – and alive!

Can I write my own will?

There is no legal requirement to have a solicitor write your will for you.  But, you can also build your own house!  The question is, are you qualified or able to do it without things later going wrong?

Are homemade wills legal?

There are various things that need to be done to make sure that your will is legal.  They relate mainly to how it is signed and witnessed.  There is NO legal requirement for your will to be made or signed by a lawyer and as such we are all free to make our own will.  So yes, homemade wills are (potentially) legal.

Should I list my assets in my will?

Generally, it is a bad idea to list your assets in your will.  This can cause confusion when you die if (as will invariably have happened) your assets have changed between making the will and dying.  So, your will should ideally be worded in general terms to included reference to percentage shares of your estate (not particular cash assets – eg bank accounts).

The law (rules of intestacy) will decide who gets your estate if you do not make a will.

What happens if I die without making a will?

If you die without making a will then the Government decides who gets your estate and who your executors will be!  So, make a will….!  The rules surrounding this are called the Rules of Intestacy.  They set out a list of those people who inherit in order of priority.

How much does it cost to make a will?

Depending on who you chose to make your will for you, the costs can be surprisingly modest.

How long does it take to write a will UK?

I can take a long time to write your will if you choose the wrong solicitor to help you!  We now offer services from ‘while you wait’ in which your will can even be drafted as we’re chatting with you.

How do you sign a Will?

The law is very specific on how you should sign your will.  It dates back to the Wills Act 1837!

What is a Joint Will?

When most of us refer to a joint will what we actually mean is ‘mirror wills’ where the terms of our own will reflects (mirrors) that of our partner.

There is however something called a Mutual Will which are very rare in which the terms of the wills are locked together and can only be changed with the consent of both parties.  This can cause a myriad of problems – which is why they are so rare!

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