Don’t put off making a will
What to put in your will
We all put things off, shortage of time, not sure what to do or not knowing who to talk to about it. Making a will definitely falls in that category. But it’s not usually a complicated process.
The process generally involves a meeting with me to discuss what you want your will to cover. What takes most time is usually you deciding exactly what you want to do but talking it through with me often clarifies a client’s thoughts. When you have decided I then prepare a draft. This can be e-mailed to you for review. When you are happy we prepare the final version. At that stage we usually see you again so that you can sign it and we can witness it.
Shortage of time
Arranging a meeting can seem difficult particularly if you work out of the areas. We are usually flexible and can often arrange evenings or weekends meetings here or at your home. With our flexibility and a bit of determination on your part making a will can be sorted in less than a couple of weeks.
None of us like to contemplate our own mortality. However sometimes clients are unwell and feel that it is a warning to get things in place while they still have plenty of time. Others, such as nervous fliers, make their will before going on a long haul flight. For some the death of a friend or family member stimulates them to get on with it. Divorce is also a stimulant and particularly important where there are children.
But it’s not only worrying situations that make people act. Having a child is a good reasons to put your wishes in writing and protect your expanded family. Similarly marriage or civil partnership are a good reason to put a will in place. This is particularly important as getting married or entering a civil partnership will invalidate a previous will.
Perhaps even more important is where you have a relationship outside marriage or civil partnership. If there is no will the partner won’t get the benefits a spouse/civil partner gets and that can be devastating. Making a will can put this right.
Whatever the motive clients often report a feeling of relief and satisfaction when their will is sorted out.
Nothing to leave
If you own little you may not think a will is worthwhile. However many historical figures have used their will for more than leaving money. Very famously Shakespeare left his wife his second best bed. That may not seem a very valuable asset but it was seen at the time as an indication of her importance to him. That may seem strange to us now but you might want to give a particular person specific gift; perhaps a piece of furniture or jewellery.
You may have something of no particular monetary value which is important to you and want to give it to someone who will treasure it in the same way. Without putting the gift in your will the person may feel unable to ask for the item and the person administering your estate may dispose of it as worthless. Putting your wishes in your will ensures that they are understood.
Funerals can be controversial and split families. Charles Dickens wanted a quiet private funeral but his wishes were ignored and a huge event celebrated his life. Others want a lavish affair or have left money for a party after their demise, either for the family or to help raise money for a special cause.
These days many people want an eco-friendly funeral with a cardboard or wicker coffin perhaps with a burial in a woodland setting. You may just want a simple cremation but what do you want doing with your ashes? Family members may have different ideas about this or what they think you wanted. For example should the ashes be interred in a family grave which might be in an unkempt graveyard or scattered in a crematorium garden?
Worrying about your funeral wishes isn’t a stress you want put on your family so you might want to make suggestions even if you don’t have strong feelings. Funeral arrangements are not binding on a family but a letter left with a will can certainly make things easier and guidance can save a lot of heartache.
Giving to Charity
You may not have a lot to leave but do you want some of it to go to charity? Your will is the place to set out your wishes to ensure that happens. However if you leave money to charity try to get the name right. More than one gift has been left to “The Society for Cruelty to Animals.” Also if you want the gift to benefit the local branch of a charity this needs to be made clear.
Caring for you children or pets is an issue many people need to think about. Trusts can help provide for young children and give them a good start in life. Life insurance policies may provide the lump sum but what age do you decide they will be responsible to look after the money themselves? The law says eighteen but some people regard this as being too young. If you want it to be later you must say so when making your will but there may be tax consequences.
So even if you think you have nothing to leave making a will is important.
Still working out what to put in your will or would like more information? Learn more here or we’ll send you a copy of our 10 Top Tips for Making the Will you Need. If you are ready now just give us a call
Kevin Moon– Private Client Solicitor – Partner