A will is a way to ensure your estate – your property, possessions and money – are passed on to one or several beneficiaries. If you do not leave a will, it will be the decision of the law to deem how your estate is passed on. So, to ensure your wishes are met, it is vital that you create a will and here are several tips to guide you through the process.
Write your will
This is the element of will writing where you can personally set out the key elements of how your estate will be shared. The type of will you request could depend on the complexity of your wishes i.e. a simple, complex or specialist will. As to what constitutes ‘complex’ can depend on the following:
- who will benefit from your will (otherwise known as beneficiaries)
- who will look after any children under 18
- who will carry out your wishes (the executor of your will)
- what happens if a beneficiary dies before you
Requiring legal advice
In dealing with the whole process, it is very important that you consult a legal specialist. This will be especially sensible during more complicated matters such as wanting to leave money to someone who cannot care for themselves or if you have a property abroad or foreign assets.
If there is ever a matter you are unsure of, requesting legal advice about your will can give you great peace of mind.
Make sure your will is legal
Before a will can be legally binding, it must be checked for its validity. To do so, the following criteria must be met:
- the testator (person making the will) must at least 18 years old (subject to certain exceptions)
- the will must be made voluntarily
- the testator must be of sound mind
- the will must be made in writing
- the will must be signed in the presence of two witnesses who are also over the age of 18 years old
- the will must be signed by the witnesses, in your presence
The entire signing and witnessing process must be followed if any changes are required to the will.
Updating your will
It is typical to go through significant changes throughout your life. That is why at Nicholls Brimble Bhol we advise you to review your will every 2 to 5 years or following a major event that has affected you. Some examples may include:
- getting married (this cancels any will you made before, unless you expressly stated that was not to happen)
- having a child
- moving properties
- getting separated or divorced
It is important to note that once a will has been signed, changes can only be made if you make a new will or a ‘codicil’. In the same manner as your will, you must sign the codicil and have it witnessed by someone who is not a chosen beneficiary.
We strongly recommend taking legal advice before making a new will or codicil.
Writing a new will
If for any reason, a will requires drastic changes, it is essential that a new one is drawn up. It is appropriate for the new will to explain that it revokes all previous wishes, wills and codicils to ensure everything preceding it is officially cancelled. If your previous wills are held with solicitors, you should notify them of any new will or codicils. Any homemade previous homemade wills should be properly disposed of.
Contact our Will & Power of Attorney Solicitors in Birmingham
There can be a lot of information to take in when it comes to will writing which is why we want to ensure the process is as straightforward as possible for you. If you are in need of legal advice on this matter, we are here to help. Call us today on 0333 016 1100 or complete our contact form.