How Do I Write My Will?
When considering writing a will, you should remember that this is a legally binding document and consequently, there are several conventions and requirements which you will need to follow in order for it to be valid. Many people assume that they can write their own will. While this is possible in the very simplest cases, in which your affairs are easily defined and your intentions are not complex, having a qualified solicitor go through the process with you is a far safer method.
If you do wish to write your own will, you would be well advised to find a will-writing pack in your local stationers. These booklets guide you through the process, ensuring that you draft the document correctly. Similarly, there are various pieces of computer software to help you through; these are covered in an article elsewhere on this site.
Clear IntentionsRegardless of whether you choose to write your own will, or if you end up employing a solicitor to do the job with you, you will need to have a clear idea of what you wish to put in the document before you begin. In order to do this, it is important that you know what your estate entails; you should have a basic idea of the value of your home, along with any other assets that you might have. Perhaps the hardest part of writing a will is deciding how your estate should be divided.
For those who are married, the most common course of action is to declare that all assets should be left to the surviving spouse. However, if you are single, divorced or widowed, this decision becomes more difficult. You are likely to wish to make some provision for your children, if you have any; aside from this, however, there may be no obvious choice as to who should receive the bulk of your estate. In these cases, you should remember that the assets being accounted for are yours, and you should not, therefore, feel pressured into taking any action which you do not feel completely comfortable with.
Before you begin writing anything else, you should ensure that the first paragraph of your will states that the document revokes any previous will. You should also destroy any other wills that you may have made.
The ExecutorA key part of the process is your choice of executor. This is the individual who will be charged with carrying out the requests written in your will, and you must therefore nominate someone in whom you place complete trust. You should also bear in mind that the executor may have to carry out the day-to-day management of your estate, and so you should make sure that they are willing to take on the task.
You can name a beneficiary as your executor; most married individuals simply name their spouse. However, if your affairs are complicated, or if you are leaving a particularly large sum of money, you may consider nominating a professional executor. This individual will perform the required tasks, but is likely to be better qualified to deal with complex affairs than your spouse. Professional executors will charge for their services, and these costs can simply be deducted from your estate.
Your signature on the will must be witnessed by at least two non-beneficiaries. They should also sign the document, in your presence. Any failure for your signature to be witnessed, or the nomination of beneficiaries as witnesses, will render your will invalid.