Making a Will
Making a will is one of those tasks every adult should do.
It’s one of those things that we intend to do some day soon but it is often put off for years!
Your Will is a legal document with instructions for how to dispose of your ‘Estate’
Everybody has an Estate, it’s what you own. No matter how small or large it becomes, it will need to be dealt with when you are no longer around.
Making a Will can be straightforward, or it can be complicated. It is up to you what you want to achieve.
It might not be the most cheerful of subjects! And you may be able to say in a few sentences what you want to happen. You may think “just leave it all to my family” or, “leave it all to charity”. Making a Will is simply an official way of doing that. Having a Will can avoid complications by giving clear instructions and they can save those you leave behind a lot of time and hassle.
What to consider when making a Will
One of the most important decision to make when creating your Will is who you wish to appoint as your Executor. Executors ‘take care of the business’ they deal with the winding up and dispersal of your estate. You should always pick someone you trust and you can pick more than one person.
You can pick one or more Executors to act jointly. It is important you consider the age and capacity of your chosen Executors. When they are called upon to act you do not want them to be incapable due to their age or location. For this reason we suggest you speak with the person you wish to appoint before doing so to ensure they are willing and will likely be capable when the time comes.
Should you wish to for the firm to act as your Executor this is possible as a backup if for any reason your chosen Executor cannot act.
Your Beneficiaries are the people who will inherit your estate under the terms of your Will. The Executor and Beneficiary can often be one and the same.
As with your Executors you must consider the age and capacity of your beneficiaries. Executors can be given powers within the Will to withhold large sums of money going to beneficiaries who are underage until they reach an age the granter of the Will believes would be best.
Your Funeral Instructions
These can be specified within your Will however you may also choose to omit leaving instruction should you wish.
Keeping it Simple
The best Wills make your wishes clear and simple to follow.
Review your Will
Whilst we would always advise your Will be made flexible for the future it is important to regularly review your Will to ensure it still says what you want it to say. Family events and changes in your life can cause your wishes to change and your Will may no longer be appropriate. We would advise you check your Will annually.
A Final Note – Please do not attempt to make a ‘DIY’ Will.
Unfortunately, whilst creating your Will is generally straightforward, drafting one yourself will almost always end up with an incorrectly drafted and more often than not invalid Will. Wills that are considered valid are often confusingly written and often do not mean what the writer intended. Our advice is to avoid these pitfalls and have your Will correctly drafted by a professional.
Three steps to creating your Will
Step 1) Meet with us
The first step is to get in contact. You can arrange an appointment with one of our solicitors or discuss the matter over the phone. Any queries you have can be addressed and we can take your instructions for the Will to enable us to create a draft for you.
Step 2: Review your draft copy
Once we have created a draft of your Will we will send it out to you so you can have a look and ensure you are happy with it. If there are elements you do not understand or you want further explanation on certain areas you can call or pop in to receive a further explanation.
Step 3: Sign and store your Will
Finally, once you are happy with your Will, and feel it accurately reflects your final instructions, you can come in to see us and sign the principal Will. Then, if you wish, the Will can be secured in our safe and we can provide copies for you to keep at home.
Updating your Will
Wills should be checked regularly to ensure they still accurately reflect your final wishes. After a long period of time, or after a significant event in your life has passed, the current version of your Will may no longer make sense, or may omit people you would wish to be included. You may have moved house or had an addition to the family, your children may have married, or a loved one may have unexpectedly passed away. These are all events that should make you think about the suitability of your current Will.
We can advise on the suitability of your current Will, matched with your changing circumstances. If you feel a review of your Will may be necessary please get in contact with us and we can guide you on the best course of action to take.
© Piers Baylis for Hastings Legal 2018
“That is your legacy on this Earth when you leave this Earth: how many hearts you touched.”Patti Davis
Hastings Legal specialise in providing friendly legal advice and services for Later Life matters. We are are regulated by the Law Society of Scotland so you can be sure that we have your best interests at heart.
Hastings Legal have offices in Kelso, Duns and Selkirk. If you are too ill to come to us, don’t worry, one of our solicitors can visit you at home or in Hospital