10 May The basics of preparing a Will
A will is the legal document by which you disclaim who will receive your assets after you death. While many people think writing a will is simple, it’s actually more complex than it sounds to create a will that is legally actionable and protected from dispute.
Some people opt to write their own wills at home, without any legal counsel. This can often be a mistake when they fail to express their intentions in a legally watertight way.
This is why those preparing a will should seek the consultancy of a professional estate lawyer with experience in this field of law. They can help you structure your will and estate plan so that your wishes are followed after your eventual death.
What goes into a valid will?
At the most basic level, a will requires that these 3 things are satisfied:
- It is in writing, handwritten, printed or typed.
- It is signed
- The signature is witnessed by 2 other individuals who also sign the document
Even when these requirements are satisfied, your will may not be followed immediately after your death. In many cases the court will need to grant the legal right for your executor to distribute the contents of the will, known as probate.
Who do you need to include in your will?
You can include anyone you like in your will, but you have a basic obligation to provide adequately for your spouse or any children if you have them. If you do not provide for your immediate family in a way deemed generally appropriate they may be able to challenge the will in court.
Do you need a lawyer to help you prepare a will?
No, you don’t need to have a lawyer to write a valid will, but it helps. It’s always a smart idea to involve a solicitor in the creation of your will and estate plan as they can make sure that it is less likely to be challenged.
The lawyer can help you with a variety of aspects in your will, including:
- Making sure wishes are expressed in a legally unassailable way, with no room for interpretation
- Advise you on tax planning and how to distribute assets to dependants
- Explain the roles of trustee and executor so you can make an informed choice
- Store your will safely so that it is not lost or destroyed
There are several other ways a solicitor can help you prepare you will so it is advisable to find a good estate lawyer you can rely on.