A simple guide to creating a will

It can be tempting to put off making a will. After all, none of us want to think about a time when we’re no longer around. However, if you were to die without having one in place, your money and possessions may not be distributed in the way you want. The absence of a will can also create tension and confusion among family members.

You should at least dip your toes into the estate planning pond so that you have a better understanding of where you stand with your properties. Sometimes it might be a case that you don’t need a complete will but certain other documents to transfer the title of your property or at least relinquish it to someone else. Maybe you’ve come across the term quick deed or is it quitclaim deed? Such legal documents can be useful if you’re planning on transferring your property to a living trust or gifting it to a family member. It’s a fairly simple process and you might realize that you were putting off estate planning due to the fear of making a will.

Even if this is not the case and you do need to actually make a will, it’s not the dying letter of defeat that many think it is. Specifying what you want to happen to your assets can not only help you avoid later problems, but it could also help to reduce the amount of inheritance tax you pay. On this issue, specialist solicitors The Law House state that a carefully planned will minimize or eliminate the inheritance tax bill on your estate.

You might assume that putting these provisions in place will be a complicated and time-consuming process, but with a little prior research, it should in fact be straightforward. This brief guide talks you through the basics.

What all things you need

Your estate plan should outline your assets, such as your finances, belongings, and property, and state who you intend to leave them to (your beneficiaries). It should also provide information on who will take care of any minors under the age of 18 and list your executors. A will can help to manage your estate and ensure your wishes, as stated in your will, are carried out. Furthermore, you may require the assistance of a Probate Clearance Service provider who, after your death, can clear your possessions from your home and arrange the sale of any valuable items. This is because certain assets may have to be sold to cover any outstanding debts or taxes. By taking all these steps, you can ensure that your estate is managed responsibly and your beneficiaries receive the assets you intended them to have.

Why you may need a solicitor

You have the option of drawing up your will yourself. But you should consider getting help from a firm providing Will Writing Services in Birmingham if that’s where you live, or at least have the finished document checked over by a legal expert. This is important because professionals tend to keep a keen eye on detail, which ensures that you avoid mistakes that could cause problems after your death. Bear in mind that resolving any disputes or misunderstandings can result in potentially significant legal costs, which would reduce the amount of money left in your estate.

It’s especially important to get advice from professionals if your will is likely to be complicated. For example, you may need help if you share a property with someone who isn’t your spouse or civil partner, you want to leave assets to a dependant who is unable to look after themselves, you have a number of family members who may make a claim on your estate (such as children from another marriage), you own a business or you have property overseas.

How to make sure the document is legal

In order for your will to be legal, you must be 18 or over when you write it, make it voluntarily and be of sound mind. In addition, it has to be produced in writing and signed in the presence of two witnesses who are both over 18. It must also be signed by these witnesses. Note that you can’t leave these witnesses, or their spouses, anything in your will.

The importance of keeping it up to date

Once you’ve made your will, don’t simply shelve it and forget about it. It’s advisable to review the document around every five years, or whenever there is a major change in your life. For example, if you separate from a partner, have a child or move house, you may need to update it.
The thought of creating a will may seem scary, but it will probably be much easier than you think, and there is plenty of guidance on offer to help you along the way.

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