Writing a Will is something that we all need to do, but that can seem a daunting prospect. Leaving clear, written instructions about what you want to happen to your estate, as well as how you want any surviving pets, children and other dependents to be cared for is possibly the kindest act that anyone can do for their loved ones. It removes a lot of uncertainty at a very difficult time.
The good news is that writing a Will is not difficult or complex. It can be as straightforward as you wish, so long as your instructions are laid out clearly and there is nothing illegal or impossible included in them. There are a number of professional Will writing services available to help you draft the wording and ensure that it is signed and witnessed correctly. These include probate and Will writing solicitors, who are trained in this area of law and can help remove a lot of stress and worry.
However, even with professional support from your preferred Will writing services, it is important to know what needs to be included in a Will. Here are some essential areas to cover.
This may seem obvious, but a Will must include the details of the person to whom the instructions apply. Give your full name and current address and date of birth. This will help your executor ensure that they have the right Will for you. Another key part of this first section is giving details of what funeral arrangements you would like, if any, and how you wish your body to be disposed of .
Listing the name(s) and contact details of the person, people, solicitor or other Will writing services whom you have appointed as your executor is also important. It means that, when the time comes, they can be contacted easily and asked to put the required arrangements in place. It is good practice to check with potential executors that they are willing to carry out the role before adding their names to your Will. Executors can legally refuse to act and ask for another party to be appointed instead.
Although the date will normally be included at the end of the Will where the witnesses sign their names, it is also a good idea to add it in the main body, towards the top. This will help your executor work out when the Will was written and decide whether or not it is the most recent iteration. A new Will, dated more recently will always override any previous versions, provided it has been correctly witnessed and signed and there is no doubt that the person writing it was of sound mind and acting of their own free will when doing so.
Wills that include arrangements for children, dependents, pets etc. must have instructions regarding this aspect of posthumous planning laid out extremely clearly. Professional Will writing services can help with wording, details etc. Again, it is very important to check with those named in the Will for this purpose that they are happy to take on a caring role or to help put appropriate arrangements in place after your death. Often, more than one person or family can be named, in order that this weighty responsibility can be shared and decisions made jointly to help relieve the pressure.
Next, the main body of the Will should contain instructions on how the person’s estate will be divided after their death. Arrangements for this can range from extremely simple (everything going to one surviving spouse, partner or child), slightly more complicated (dividing the estate between partners, children and other family members or friends) or highly complex (setting up trusts, naming individual beneficiaries for certain assets, such as jewellery, artworks, vehicles etc, safeguarding life-long interest in properties, working out business arrangements etc.). Then, you may also wish to include charitable donations or bequests to local businesses, schools etc.
Finally, as already stated above, a Will is not considered legally binding until it has been witnessed and signed by two independent people, who must testify to the fact that you are the genuine person about whom the document has been written, that you are of sound mind and have not been coerced into making the new Will. Witnesses should not be named as beneficiaries in the Will and must be 18 years old or over on the signing date.