Importance of Making and Updating Our Wills

Surveys show that most of us are less than careful when it comes to ensuring that we take care of those who will be left behind when we pass on to the next life.

Many people are reluctant to make a Will. If you fail to make a Will then your descendants will pay a large share of your estate in surplus tax as a result of you dying intestate and settling your financial affairs will take a lot longer. A Will helps identify your resources and ensures that your property passes to the people of your choice and helps avoid family issues..When you have made your Will you should review it approximately every five to seven years.

How to make a will

Spend some time thinking through what you want to put in your Will – don’t just dash in to making your Will until you have prepared some notes to take with you when you get to a Solicitor. Prepare a list of your assets, your insurance policies and a list your creditors. Decide on whom you want to benefit under you Will and whether or not you wish to leave assets in trust. Be sure to ask the Solicitor what fees may apply to this service.

Wills must be in writing, signed by the testator (the person making the Will) and witnessed by two independent witnesses. Neither witness nor the spouse of a witness can be a beneficiary under a Will. You will be asked to nominate an Executor who will be responsible to see that the will is enacted after your death.

There are also a number of things that you could do to simplify your estate for the transfer of assets: Consider placing the family home in joint ownership of your spouse/civil partner if it is not already so. This can be done without stamp duty or registry fees, but your Solicitor will have to prepare a new deed.

Your Will should be kept in a secure place and make sure it can be readily found in the event of your death.

Spouse’s and Civil Partners’ Rights

A spouse cannot be disinherited under normal circumstances. If left out of the Will and there are no children, a spouse is entitled by right to half of the estate. If there are children the spouse is entitled to one-third of the estate. A spouse can lose the legal right share if convicted of a crime against the Testator calling for a sentence of two years or more, if certain orders are made by the Courts, or if the surviving spouse deserted the deceased spouse and the desertion continued for more than two years prior to the date of death.

Common Law Partners

Common law partners have no rights to your inheritance unless he/she are specifically mentioned in your Will.

Child’s Rights

The Court may order benefits additional to those given by a Will to be paid to a child. If a child is disinherited or not treated fairly, the Court will look at the case from the point of view of what a “prudent” and “just” parent would have done. The child will have to make an application to the Court, and the onus of proof on the child is very high. A child does not have the right to contest a Will when the parent of the child is the beneficiary.

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