With the Myton Hospices Wills Week taking place next month (March), now is a good time to be thinking of making – or changing – your will.
Writing a will is vital to ensure that loved ones are taken care of and that your wishes are known in the event of your death.
Having a will is a good way to ensure that your estate winds up in the right hands. In short, a will is a legal document that gives clear guidance to your family and friends how you want your assets distributed after your death.
For example, in addition to the bulk of your estate, there may be smaller legacies or certain cherished items you wish to leave to particular people; you may also wish to donate to charity; or even stipulate whether you wish to be buried or cremated. Wills are also important to clearly state who might care for young children, following your death.
Some people even include their funeral plans – stipulating the venue and selecting the hymns.
You will also want to name your executors: members of the family, close friends or professional advisors who will be responsible for seeing that your wishes are carried out.
This time of year is particularly busy for my department as mortality rates rise during the cold weather and we are kept busy with wills – including sorting out badly written DIY ones!
Typically, the problems include poorly drafted wills or trusts, negligent probate or tax advice and lost wills – all of which can result in disputes between executors or beneficiaries.
It is crucial that nothing is left to interpretation, as any ambiguity could lead to dispute or litigation, which is when we are called in. That is why wills should be written by professionals, solicitors who can give appropriate legal advice on relevant issues, such as financial obligations, tax implications and charitable legacies, whilst considering your personal circumstances.
Those who you think might inherit, such as long-term partners, do not necessarily inherit if you die without a will. This can lead to family squabbles.
Remember, you can update your will at any time before your death, provided that you have capacity to do so. In fact, it is advisable to revise your will after any major life event, such as marriage, divorce, moving to a new property, the birth of a new child, or the death of loved one.
So, why not make one last New Year’s Resolution and give your family the peace of mind of knowing your wishes by writing – or amending – your will.