Don’t put it off
Remember that if you are over 55 we can offer a FREE basic will, so please contact us
WHAT IS A WILL?
A Will is a legal document that sets out your wishes about who gets what after you die. It can also include special instructions about what you want to happen at your funeral, including whether you wish to be buried or cremated, and makes provision for anyone who is dependent on you financially. In short it gives you more control over what happens to your body, your money, property and possessions (your “estate”) after you die.
WHO SHOULD MAKE A WILL?
Everyone over the age of 18 should make a Will as, if they die, there will be legal requirements and procedures that must be followed. Making a Will helps make your wishes clear.
People often assume that their spouse, partner or family will automatically inherit their possessions but this is not the case. It is also important to remember that the law doesn’t afford the same rights to unmarried partners as those who are married or in a civil partnership.
If you die without leaving a Will, you die ‘intestate’ which means that all decisions about what happens to your estate are made by the State. Without a Will there can also be uncertainty over:
• your funeral wishes
• who will look after and provide for your children or other dependents
• any decisions you may have made about organ donation.
This can cause additional distress for your loved ones and can cause delays complications and in administering the Will.
For your Will to be legally valid:
• you must be over 18 and of sound mind
• you must make it voluntarily and in writing
• you must sign it in front of 2 witnesses
• it must be signed by 2 witnesses in front of you
• your witnesses must be over 18
• your witnesses or their spouses or civil partners cannot benefit from the Will
The less straightforward your circumstances, the more legal pitfalls you could encounter. In particular, you should get legal advice if:
• you are not a British citizen
• your permanent home is not in the UK
• you live in the UK but have overseas property
• you own all or part of a business
We can advise you on all the things you need to consider when making your Will and make sure that all the correct legal procedures are followed. We can also advise on issues such as how inheritance affects your assets, setting up a trust for your children or a disabled person and give you advice on any changes that you may need to make to keep it up to date.
WHAT YOU NEED TO TELL US
As well as details of your family and your status – such as whether you are married, in a civil partnership or co-habiting or divorced or separated – we will also need to know about your children or other dependents. If they may be under 18 when you die, you will need to appoint someone to be their legal Guardian. You also need to tell us:
• what you own (this includes bank accounts, insurance policies and pensions as well as property and possessions)
• who gets what (your “beneficiaries” and details of what you wish them to inherit from you)
• any other wishes (such as organ donation and funeral wishes)
You will also need to tell us who you wish to be your “executors”. They will be responsible carrying out the administration of your Will after your death. You can nominate friends or family members or a professional such as a Mancini Legal.
|If you want to be an organ donor you must record your wishes on the organ donor register (www.organdonation.nhs.uk) or carry a donor card. For more information call the Organ Donor Line on 0300 123232
Once your Will has been signed, it cannot be amended unless you add an official alteration called a “codicil”. This must be signed and witnessed in the same way as the Will itself. A codicil is sufficient for minor changes and there is no limit on the number of codicils that you can make. For significant changes, you will need to draw up a new Will otherwise you risk it being inadequate or even invalidated. Significant changes include:
• getting married/divorced/separated
• having children
You should also make a new Will if your executor dies.
It is best to destroy your old Will by burning it or tearing it up and make it clear that your new Will officially cancels (revokes) all previous Wills and codicils.
KEEPING YOUR WILL SAFE
If your Will can’t be found after you have died, your wishes may not be carried as you intended or it may be assumed that you never wrote one and you will be considered to have died “intestate”. You should:
• put it in a safe place (we can store your Will safely for you or you could store it at your bank or in a safe place at home)
• tell your executors, your family or a close friend where it is
We can register your Will with the National Will Register for you. This records the location of where the Will was made and stored. We offer this as a free service for Wills drawn up with us before September 2012 or for a small registration charge after this date. We also provide storage facility for your Wills.
We offer FREE wills for the over 55’s in Association with Cancer Research UK.
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