Most people are familiar with the concept of a Will, yet about two-thirds of people in Scotland don’t have one. Perhaps it is due to not wanting to consider the reality of our mortality, or a misconception of them not being entirely necessary. Or maybe like many other people you simply have it on your to-do list and keep forgetting to actually do anything about it.
If that sounds like you, here is our breakdown of why you should consider a Will in Scotland and what is actually involved in making one.
Why do you need a Will?
It is very important to have a Will in place before you die for a number of reasons.
If you do not have a Will, your estate (property, money, belongings…) will be subject to what is known as the Rights of Succession. This may not be the way you want your estate to be divided, may automatically include those you don’t wish to be included, or maybe even forget about someone that you do. By having a will you can name exactly what you want to happen to your estate.
If you are unmarried, your spouse won’t automatically inherit from you, even if you have been together for a long time.
If you have children, you can name a guardian for them, as well as any instructions on how you wish for them to be cared for. This is important in terms of any individual with children to consider, but particularly for single parents where the person you would choose as guardian may not be straightforward.
Requirements for a Will
The requirements to make a Will can vary from country to country. In Scotland the requirements are as follows:
- A Will can be made by someone who is 12 years or older.
- A Will must be made voluntarily and without pressure or persuasion from anyone else.
- A Will must be made by someone who is of sound mind, is fully aware of the nature of the document being written/signed and is aware of the identity of the people who might inherit from it.
- A Will must be made in writing, signed by the person making it (on every page of the Will) and signed in front of a witness.
What to include in a Will?
Before making a Will you should consider exactly what you want to be included in it. Things to consider are:
- What your estate is made up of – any property you own, any money you have in bank accounts & savings, if you have invested in shares…
- Who you want to benefit from your Will; these people are known as your “Beneficiaries.” Most people will choose their partner/spouse, children, family or friends as Beneficiaries. You can also choose to leave some (or all) money to a charity.
- Who should look after children under 16, by acting as their guardian.
- Who is going to be responsible for sorting out your estate; these people are known as your “Executors.”
For some people the choice of who will be Executors can be obvious. For others it may consider a bit of thought. You will need to choose at least one person as an Executor, although it is common to name two, in case one dies before you. You can however name up to four Executors.
Most people will choose family, such as older-children, a partner/spouse or a sibling as their Executor(s). Some may choose their friend(s) instead of family members, or a combination of both. Alternatively you can name a solicitor to act as your Executor too. Just be sure to discuss with your Executors that you have chosen them, partly so they don’t get a surprise when asked to step-up but also to ensure they agree and know your wishes in advance.
How do you make a Will?
Wills can often be straightforward to make but it is always wise to consult with a solicitor when it comes to drafting one up. You might find templates online and be tempted to DIY it but these can be hard to customise, especially without knowing the ins-and-outs of Scottish Law; potentially making mistakes that could leave your Will invalid.
By consulting with a solicitor you can also get expert advice, tailored to your individual circumstances, as well as them being able to safely keep a hold of the original copy of your Will until it is required.
If you are ready to make a Will, get in touch with Aileen at Beveridge Philp and Ross today. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0131 554 6244.