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Writing A Will And Planning For Your Estate

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 27 Jul 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Writing A Will Planning Your Estate

Whilst we’re all aware that we’ll all die one day, it’s quite incredible to think that there are a large proportion of people who have never bothered writing a will, even when they reach retirement age. Writing a will is the only legal safeguard to ensure that what you leave behind in terms of money and assets is passed on to the people you want it to go to after you die.

What Happens If I Die Without Having Made A Will?

There can be many implications if you die without having made a will. Without a valid ‘Last Will and Testament’ – to give the document its more formal name, the legal term for this is having died ‘intestate’. This basically means that all of the deceased’s assets are frozen until such a time that obtaining Letters of Administration and appointing somebody to act as administrator can often take several months. Meanwhile, if you have a surviving spouse, for example, it may mean that they are placed in a difficult position financially. Without the release of monetary assets, they’ll still need to cover everyday household expenses when they may actually be under more financial pressure to honour those commitments. Depending on circumstances, not writing a will can also mean that when your assets are eventually distributed, that might not be done in complete accordance to what you might have wished. It can have tax implications too. Therefore, it is important that you make a will.

Writing A Will

The best thing to do when it comes to writing a will is to appoint a solicitor. It doesn’t cost a vast amount of money and, this way, you can have peace of mind in deciding how you want your estate to be divided up once you die. By also appointing a solicitor to carry out the task of writing your will, he or she will know how to maximise the assets of your estate in terms of any tax implications. Although legal wills can appear to be very complicated to understand in their written form, this should not be a concern. There is a formality to writing a will and yet the process of speaking to the solicitor and discussing how you want your estate to be distributed upon your death is quite a simple and painless process and the solicitor will discuss issues with you in plain English.

Writing Your Own Will

There are many DIY will packs which enable you to write your own will these days and many people choose to do so as it’s less expensive than appointing a solicitor. There are also many websites which will tell you what you need to include and, of course, you’ll still need to have two witnesses to sign the document. The major pitfall in writing your own will is that without a comprehensive understanding of the legalities surrounding wills, you could end up paying more tax than you would otherwise have needed to. Furthermore, there may be people who may have a valid claim to your estate where you don’t want them to which you may have overlooked when you write the document. And, without that being stated in the will, they may still be entitled to a proportion of your estate.

Power Of Attorney And Living Wills

Writing a will is also important in the event that you become either mentally or physically incapacitated in your later years. It’s important that you appoint a Power of Attorney who is able to take decisions and to act upon your behalf should you ever become unable to do so yourself. Usually, you’d appoint a spouse or one of your children or somebody else that you trust implicitly. Living wills are often drawn up by people who want to determine what actions should or should not be taken in the event that they become so ill that they’re not able to take decisions for themselves. This can include things like writing a living will to state that you want to die a natural death without the need for machines to keep you artificially alive. Living wills can often make things a lot less painful for family and for your GP or hospital when it comes to prolonging medical treatment.

Review Your Will From Time To Time

Many people do get around to writing a will but fail to update it. It’s important that you review your will from time to time as circumstances can change and that might need to be reflected in your will. A marriage, divorce or new children or grandchildren in the family can often cause people to rethink how they want their estate to be distributed upon their death so these things need to reflected in your will.

Leave A Trail

A will is only useful if people know where to find it. Therefore, it’s important to let your nearest and dearest know where to access a copy of your will along with any other important documents pertaining to your estate upon your death. This might be from your solicitor’s address or you may also keep copies of this at a secure place in your home. Wherever the details are kept, make sure a loved one knows where to find them when the time comes.

The bottom line is that dealing with the aftermath of a death is difficult enough for those who are left behind so you should try to organise all of the relevant paperwork in advance. In doing that, it is one less thing that your loved ones will have to worry about.

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I agree when writing a Will, for the modest cost it's worth getting it done professionally. This doesn't mean a daunting visit to the solicitors, you can still arrange a Will online and get expert help on the telephone. I have heard of too many horror stories to take a chance on do it yourself Wills.
Ash50 - 27-Jul-13 @ 7:37 PM
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