Benjamin Franklin said there were only two things certain in life: death and taxes, and both are topics that no one wants to discuss. But if you don’t make plans on how you want to distribute your estate while you’re still alive, it can cause a lot of to sort out after you’re gone.
Many people feel a little daunted or even afraid of the process, but in reality, the business of making a will is a lot more straightforward and doesn’t even cost the earth, as long as you ensure you avoid some of the pitfalls involved.
Family solicitors in Surrey have our top ten tips on how to end up with the perfect will.
1. Choose who draws up your will wisely
It’s easy to pick up a DIY kit for making your own will, but they are often full of pitfalls and can lead to easily made errors. Solicitors can make a lot of money from having to sort out badly drafted wills, and dealing with claims against those wills, more money than they would get for drawing up a will.
2. Choose your executors well
Executors are responsible for exercising your estate per your instructions after you have died. It is a responsible and demanding role and involves handling large sums of money. And don’t forget to check that the people you choose are happy to take on the role.
3. Appoint a default or substitute executor
It’s common for married people to chose their spouse as their executor, but be sure not to have them as your sole executor. If the worst happens, and you both died together in an accident, then neither of you would have a living executor. Enlisting a default or substitute executor is a wise idea.
4. Appoint guardians
Should you be the last living parent, and you pass leaving children under the age of 18, the court will appoint a guardian, unless you have specified one in your will. This is particularly the case for unmarried couples with children. In the event of the father’s death, the mother would automatically get guardianship, but not the other way round. You should appoint each other as guardians in your wills to overcome this problem.
5. Appoint trustworthy trustees
If you are setting up a trust in your will or if your beneficiaries could be aged under 18 when you die, you will need to appoint trustees. Trustees will be responsible for managing and investing money and property until it passes to the beneficiaries, so make sure they are people with a good grasp of financial matters.
6. Make specific legacies
If you want to preserve family heirlooms or items of special sentimental value, (for example, a grandfather clock, or a wedding or engagement ring), you should leave these items as a specific legacy to a named beneficiary.
7. Make sure you leave a residual legacy
The ‘residue’ is what is leftover in your estate after you have made any specific legacies. You must specify who this goes to, as if you fail to do so, you will create a partial intestacy in your will. In other words, the small gifts and legacies would pass according to the will, but the residue would be subject to the laws of intestacy.
8. Save tax with a trust
Inheritance tax is becoming a burden for many families, particularly where the value of a property pushes the value of an estate above the nil rate band for inheritance tax. If you are married, you can include a discretionary trust in your wills, which could save your children more £110,000 in inheritance tax at current rates.
9. Sign your will
If you don’t sign it in front of two independent witnesses, it will not be valid. A witness cannot be anyone mentioned in the will or anyone married to anyone mentioned in the will.
10. Store it safely
Once your will has been correctly signed and witnessed, have it stored in a proper safe storage facility. This will protect it from fire, flood, damage, or loss. Your executors will be provided with a certificate showing them where your will is stored and how to get hold of it if you die. Whatever you do – don’t hide your will. Your will is no good to anyone if it cannot be found after your death.
If you’re looking for friendly and approachable will solicitors in Epsom, then get in contact today.