Tax and Estate Planning

5 questions to answer when writing your will

You should take some time to write your will. Having a will can give you peace of mind and help your loved ones deal with inevitable paperwork after you die. A well-written will makes the sad time a little less stressful for everyone. 

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5 questions to answer when writing your will
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You should take some time to write your will. Having a will can give you peace of mind and help your loved ones deal with inevitable paperwork after you die. A well-written will makes the sad time a little less stressful for everyone. 

Thinking about your mortality is not something many of us want to do. But having a will can be a lifesaver for your loved ones. It is worth sitting down and writing a will to ensure your legacy lives on how you want it to. When you get to the writing process, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are five questions you should ask to ensure you take care of every little detail.

1. Do I need a will if I don’t have much wealth?

You should first think about the reasons you should have a will. It is easy to dismiss the need for a will if you don’t have a lot of wealth to leave behind. But while a will could divide your financial assets after you die in a way that you want, it is much more than that. With a will, you can:

  • Outline your wishes regarding your funeral arrangements 
  • Say how you want to divide and share your non-financial assets
  • Have a say in how to share your wealth and ease the burden of Inheritance Tax, for example

Even if you don’t have a lot of financial assets to leave behind, you might have other things that are meaningful to you. If you don’t have a legally binding will to say what you want to happen to these assets, you can’t know how your family deals with them. 

It’s essential to think about these things before you start writing your will. You should sit down and outline all the things you’d like to happen after you die. Creating a list of meaningful assets, whether financial or not, can also help ensure you know what you’re leaving behind. It will allow you to then be mindful of how you’d like to pass on those assets. 

2. Who do I want to oversee my will?

You should also answer the question regarding an executor. An executor is someone responsible for sorting out your legal affairs after death. You need to appoint one in your will, and choosing an executor is not something to do lightly. 

Executors carry legal responsibilities, and they could be liable for any loss that occurs if they fail to carry out your wishes. Because of these responsibilities, you want to ensure you select someone capable of carrying out the different duties. 

Your executor can be a friend, a loved one or a solicitor. Unlike the witnesses to your will, your chosen executor can benefit from your will. 

If your estate is big or complicated, it can be a good idea to use a professional solicitor. It can save your loved ones a lot of trouble. It is also a good idea to appoint at least a few executors. While you need to nominate a primary executor, you can also have one or two alternatives in case your first choice is unable to carry out your wishes.

3. How do I know my will is legally binding?

To guarantee your wishes are followed, you have to make sure your will is legally binding. When you start writing your will, you should keep in mind the details that ensure its validity.

For your document to be valid in the eyes of the law, it has to:

  • Clearly state how you want to share your estate after you die
  • Be in writing
  • Have your signature and state the time of writing
  • Have the signatures of two witnesses (they have to witness you signing the document)

Please be aware that your witnesses cannot be people who will inherit something from you. If you are leaving something for a friend in the will, then you can’t have them act as a witness, for example. For this reason, your spouse or civil partner can’t act as a witness either.

You also need to write your will when you are capable of making your own decisions. It is a good idea to write a will when you are still young and healthy. It is always possible to change and update your will later if you want to. 

4. Is a will the only document I should write?

As you start planning for your retirement and old age, you should think more about the issues dealing with your care and death. A will is an important document to ensure your wishes come true after you pass away. It might be worth writing another legal document to help with situations where you are unable or unwilling to handle your affairs.

You should consider setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). There are two versions of the document to consider:

  • A Health and Welfare LPA can help set out who gets to make decisions about your medical treatment and care if you are unable to do so
  • A Property and Finance LPA can nominate a person that acts on your behalf in matters relating to your finances and property if you can’t do so

You can also write a living will. The document can’t permit people to act on your behalf, but it will outline your wishes regarding your health and care. 

5. Where should I keep my will?

Once you’ve written your will, you need to store it somewhere safe. You could keep it at home or store with your solicitor or bank, for example. If you are using a professional will writing service, then they often offer storing services as well. 

You should also provide a copy of your will to any person you’ve named as an executor. Your executors should also know where your original will is so they can access it after you die. 

Writing your will by answering the above questions

The above five questions with their answers will guide you throughout the process. You can create a meaningful will that helps ensure you get to have a say on what happens to you and your estate after your death. The answers will also guarantee your will is legally binding. 

You can write your will alone and have witnesses involved at the end of it. There are also legal services you can use. If you want to use professional help, remember to look for different options and use a qualified service provider.

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