Making a will may seem like a difficult and costly process but there are now online legal services which simplify the process and make it really affordable, giving you peace of mind that everything will be taken care of according to your wishes, should the worst happen.
A will covers appointing executors, guardians for your children, legacies and what will happen to your estate and possessions. Failing to make a will can have consequences which can cause serious problems for you and your family.
Protecting your partner
You might think that when you die, if you are married or in a civil partnership, your surviving spouse or civil partner will automatically receive all of your estate. However, this is not the case. If you die without leaving a will, there are legal rules, called the "intestacy rules", which dictate which members of your family will receive your estate.
Rocket Lawyer recommends connecting with an On Call Lawyer when dealing with matters concerning personal assets valued at over £325,000 or combined assets with your spouse or civil partner valued at over £650,000.
If you are not married or in a civil partnership and you do not have a will on your death, your partner will not be entitled to anything. Even if you have joint bank accounts with your partner, or a home, any jointly held property will not necessarily pass onto your surviving partner.
So here is the overarching golden rule: it’s best to take control of your estate by making a will.
Executors are the people who will carry out your wishes after your death. Nominating your executors means you can select reliable family or friends that you know will be best capable of fulfilling your requests. You can have up to four executors and they can also be beneficiaries of your will. Their roles are sensitive and personal but making a will ensures these responsibilities are managed by people you trust.
Executors make your funeral arrangements in accordance with your instructions. They work out what your estate is worth and decide whether or not there is any Inheritance Tax to pay on your estate. They apply to the Probate Registry for the Grant of Representation of your will. A Grant of Probate is a document from the Family Division of the High Court which confirms that your will is valid and that your estate can be wound-up in accordance with the terms of your will.
Look after your children
Once you have decided who you would like to be your Executors, you then need to consider whether or not you need to appoint guardians in your will. Testamentary guardians are people who will look after your children if any of them are under 18 at the time of your death. They take over the role of parental responsibility for your children.
If children inherit money and/or property, it is usually held in a trust until they are 18. Specify how you would like trusts to be managed, your nominated executors can deal with this fund.
Remember to follow the signing rules
Once you’ve made your will, you need to follow some rules about how to formalise it. The execution of your will requires three people, yourself and two witnesses.
In the presence of your two witnesses and in the spaces provided, you should date the document and sign your name using your “usual” signature where indicated whilst your witnesses watch. Ask your two witnesses to add, in your presence, their “usual” signatures where indicated, asking them to print their names, addresses and occupations clearly for identification purposes.
Anyone over 18 can create a will for free with Rocket Lawyer’s seven day free trial.
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