No one wants to consider a time when they are not around but it makes a lot of sense to plan ahead so that all of your wishes can be carried out after you have gone.
The best way to get all your affairs in order and to ensure that your assets are divided how you want is to arrange to write a will.
Here are some of the simple steps to follow in order to get a well organized, including a useful checklist of what points you need to consider so that everything is taken care of.
Why you need to write a will
The first step in the process is to consider why it is so important to write a will in the first place.
If you own a property and have some possessions, and have money in the bank or invested, you want to be sure that your loved ones or certain special causes, get to receive the proceeds of your estate after your death.
Your marital status is also highly relevant, as an automatic right to inherit might not apply if you are not married or in a recognized civil partnership.
It is never worth leaving something as important as this to chance and if you are unsure about what you have to do to protect your estate properly, consulting someone who offers probate law services should help resolve any questions that you might have.
Work out what you have
A good starting point when you start planning what you want to put in your will is to write down all of your current assets and get an idea of what your estate will be worth.
You will need to be thorough and take your time with this task as you don’t want to miss anything out.
Make a list of any property you own, what savings and investments you have and don’t forget to account for any items of jewellery, things like cars and other valuable personal items that will be included.
Work out what you owe
Another important task to carry out is to make a comprehensive list of your debts, as you will need to pay off what you owe such as a mortgage or credit card debts before you can arrive at a figure that will be left to distribute to your chosen heirs after all your bills have been settled.
Make your intentions crystal clear
The next step in the process is to decide exactly how you want to divide your estate.
This is a very important and sometimes emotive task, but it needs to be done in the knowledge that these instructions will be your last wishes and there will be no opportunity to change your will once you are gone.
You can change the terms of your will as and when you want while you are alive, but many people have set ideas about what they are going to leave to each person that is going to be mentioned in your will.
There are plenty of us who are dedicated to a particular cause and you may well be a regular supporter of a number of charities that are close to your heart.
You might want to leave something in your will to a charity, so think about whether you want to do that and how much you want to give.
Choose someone you can trust to execute your will
When you write a will you normally have to appoint at least one person who will act as executor of your will.
An executor will assume responsibility for ensuring that all your wishes are carried out and it is a position of great responsibility, so you need to think about who would be most suitable.
It is quite normal to appoint more than one executor and it can be a professional with experience of probate matters rather than a loved one if you prefer. You could also do a mix and match and appoint a family member as well as someone like a lawyer to cover all the angles.
Putting it all down in a legal document
Writing your will is not something that is done in a few minutes.
Your wishes might be straightforward enough, but it still pays to be very diligent about making sure that everything is covered in the document.
There are various professional bodies you can consult if you want to get some help with making sure your will is as watertight as possible and is written in a way that it is clear what your final intentions are.
Making the document legal
In order for your will to become a proper legal document that allows your executors to implement your instructions, you will need to sign it.
You have to sign the will in the presence of an independent witness to make it valid and to confirm that you have signed the document willingly and with a full understanding of what the terms of the will entail.
Put it in a safe place
Once your will has been formally completed and signed you will need to make arrangements to have it stored in a secure place.
You will also need to let your loved ones know where the will can be accessed in the event of your death.
Are you well enough to sign?
A couple of key questions you might have about the will writing process includes the valid question about whether you will be considered as having the right level of mental capacity to make the will valid.
If you have an illness such as dementia at the time of writing the will, you can often have someone sign on your behalf as long as you are present. However, it’s best to get professional guidance on this.
It is always a good idea to have a will written that conveys your final wishes and it’s never too early to get that done, as you can always update it as your circumstances and instructions change over time.