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Read more articles in: Amy Hillson, Blog, Private Client

You want to write a Will: What next?

Writing a Will is a significant step in managing your affairs and ensuring your wishes are respected after you pass away.

The process can be complicated and the concerns that often accompany it can be pressing without the proper guidance.

In this blog, we’ll explore the key steps and considerations involved in writing a Will, to help you navigate this essential legal document and take the burden off your family’s shoulders once you pass away.

Understanding the importance of a Will

A Will is more than just a legal document – it’s a reflection of your wishes and a crucial tool for protecting your loved ones once you’re gone.

Without a Will, your estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy, which may not align with your personal wishes.

By writing a Will, you ensure that your assets are distributed as you intend, and you can also appoint guardians for your children, make specific bequests, and express your funeral preferences.

There are several steps to writing a Will but it is also essential to consult with a qualified solicitor to ensure that the written document is legally binding.

Here are some of the most important steps.

Gathering your thoughts and documents

Before you begin the process of writing your Will, it’s important to gather your thoughts and relevant documents.

Start by making a comprehensive list of your assets, including property, investments, savings, and personal items of value.

Also, consider your liabilities, such as mortgages or loans, as these can affect the distribution of your estate.

Deciding on key appointments

One of the most crucial aspects of writing a Will is deciding who will execute your wishes and ensure they are carried out.

This role, known as the executor, is the person who will manage your estate’s distribution, and pay any outstanding debts.

Don’t worry, they cannot be held accountable for outstanding debts if the estate does not cover the costs, so you can’t pass on that responsibility to someone you love inadvertently.

You should choose someone you trust, who is organised and capable of handling this task efficiently and effectively.

Additionally, if you have minor children, consider appointing guardians to ensure their care and support should you pass away before they reach the age of 18.

Be specific about your wishes

Clarity is key in a Will.

Be as specific as possible about how you want your assets to be distributed.

This can include specific gifts, such as family heirlooms or charitable donations, and the residual estate – what’s left after specific bequests and debts are paid.

If you have children, outline any trusts or provisions you wish to set up for their benefit.

Consider the tax implications

Inheritance Tax (IHT) can significantly impact your estate, so it’s important to understand how it might affect your beneficiaries and how you could legally avoid this burden by acting while you are alive.

There are various allowances and reliefs available, and with careful planning, you can minimise the tax burden on your estate.

This is where professional advice from a solicitor becomes invaluable.

They can advise you on the best way to gift your estate tax-free and prevent a considerable IHT payment in some cases.

Again, a proactive approach to this is invaluable.

Seek professional advice

While there are do-it-yourself options available, seeking professional advice is always recommended, especially if your estate is complex or contains a lot of value.

A solicitor can help ensure that your Will is legally valid, reflects your wishes accurately, and considers all relevant legal and tax implications.

They can also provide advice on trusts, Lasting Powers of Attorney, and other aspects of estate planning like estate valuation.

Review and update regularly

Your circumstances and relationships can change over time, so it’s important to review and update your Will accordingly.

Major life events, such as marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, or the acquisition of significant assets, are key triggers for reviewing your Will.

Storing your Will safely

The final job – to store your Will in a safe place – is also critical to passing on your estate to the right people once you’re gone.

Once your Will is written, it’s crucial to store it safely and let your executor know where it is.

You can keep it at home, with your solicitor, or with a Will storage facility.

If you follow all of these steps and seek professional advice, you will ensure that your loved ones are well looked after and your estate is passed on to the ones you want to inherit it.

To start writing your Will, please get in touch with one of our solicitors, who can walk you through the process and ensure your family is cared for once you are gone.

Amy Hillson

Paralegal – Wills and Powers of Attorney

I started my professional career with Mander Hadley when I joined the firm in March 2021, having completed a Law Degree LLB (Hons) at Birmingham City University.