We've spoken before about how important it is to write a Will in a previous blog "10 very good reasons to have a current Will". It really is the best way to ensure that what you have goes to the right people in the event of your death. For example, a Will is particularly important if you are a couple that lives together but are not married or in a civil partnership. This is because cohabitees do not automatically have rights to their partner’s estate if they die without leaving a Will.
Percy Walker Solicitors in Hastings always advise on getting professional help when writing your Will to ensure it's completed according to legal requirements and covers every aspect. It is possible to write your own Will - costs to do so can begin from as little as £10 - but the problem with the DIY approach is that it can be very risky.
Figures from Co-operative Legal Services (CLS) suggest that as many as 38,000 families a year are subjected to a prolonged probate ordeal due to ineffective or poorly drafted DIY Wills.
There are a number of pitfalls that could befall you if you don't get expert advice:
When you write your Will, the document needs to be witnessed by two independent adults at the same time. Neither of these independent witnesses can be a named beneficiary in the Will. If you don't adhere to these strict witnessing rules then the document could be invalid.
You also need to remember to witness any amendments to the Will that can occur at a later stage, otherwise these changes may not be enforceable.
It's vital to name beneficiaries of all aspects of your estate - that includes things like your insurance policies, retirement accounts and any annuities. If you don't do this, you could find your assets end up in probate.
It's also important to remember that things change over time. When significant life changes occur such as divorce or the birth of new children, you should update your Will to reflect these changes. This is also important when the death of one of your named beneficiaries occurs. You should adjust your Will to name a new beneficiary.
If you remarry, any previous Will is revoked (unless it expressly stipulates that it has been written in contemplation of marriage) so you will need to act to write a new one.
Make sure you keep your Will current with all the information updated and correct.
It's not just enough to name beneficiaries, you need to ensure that the executor of your estate can find all the information they will need to be able manage the process.
If you think of all the assets that you have accumulated over time, this could amount to quite a list - and without passwords and relevant documentation it could prove to be a logistical nightmare.
Make things much simpler by keeping a list of all your assets and any passwords. You'll need to store this in a safe place and share with the executor of your estate, or your solicitor, where this information is stored.
The best way to avoid falling foul of these common pitfalls is to call the team at Percy Walker solicitors. They will ensure that you cover every aspect of your estate correctly and that your Will meets all the legal requirements in order for it to be valid.
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