Learn more about Wills in the latest blog from Beveridge, Philp & Ross. Discover why they’re necessary, what to include in one and how to make changes.
Writing a Will: Why, When and How
Many people mistakenly believe only the super-rich and those with complicated estates need to worry about making a Will, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Whether you have a lot or a little, writing a Will is essential to ensure your possessions are divvied up in the way you want, that minors are cared for, and those you love get their fair share.
So, join us as we dive into everything you need to know about Wills, from why they’re necessary to how to write one up, what to include and how to make changes to it in the future.
What is a Will?
A Will is a legally binding document that details how you wish your estate, property, and assets to be distributed after your death. For those with children under 16 or dependants who cannot look after themselves, it will also include provisions for their care.
While no document can reliably cover all the issues that may arise after your death, a thorough and detailed Will can guarantee your family is provided for and lessen complications and further heartache at a difficult time.
Why it’s Important to Write a Will
Failing to make a Will can be costly . It can also mean that your loved ones may not receive what you wanted to leave to them.
A Will also ensures financial compensation for non-married couples and those in civil partnerships. Without one, they may not be legally entitled to your estate even if you’ve lived together for a long time, which can result in further suffering and financial difficulties.
Making a Will can ensure that your wishes are carried out. For those with children from different partners or marriages, this can also ensure fair distribution and prevent disputes over claims to assets once you’re gone.
Moreover, by seeking tax advice during the Will writing process, you may be able to reduce the inheritance tax on what your loved ones inherit.
Making Your Will
When it comes to making your Will, you should appoint a solicitor to ensure it’s legally watertight and free from mistakes. While Will writing services are available, errors are easily made and can result in costly legal fees that will eat up your estate, leaving less for your loved ones and adding unnecessary complications after you’re gone.
Solicitors are well-versed in the constantly shifting legal landscape and will ensure your Will follows the correct procedure and is clear, concise and to your exact wishes.
Hiring a solicitor is especially important when:
- You share a property with someone who isn’t your spouse or civil partner.
- You wish to make provisions for care for a dependant who cannot care for themselves (such as an adult with disabilities or children under 16 years old).
- You have several family members who may wish to make a claim on your estate (e.g. children from a first marriage or a second spouse).
- Your permanent home isn’t in the UK.
- You’re not a UK citizen (i.e., a resident here but a citizen overseas).
What to Include in Your Will
Before attending your appointment with your solicitor, consider your various assets and what you want to include in your Will. While your solicitor can help you catch any you may have missed, being prepared before your meeting will help streamline the process and save you time and money in the long run.
Consider the following:
- How much money you have (including bank accounts, shares and investments, savings, insurance policies and pensions).
- Any property you own.
- Any possessions you’d like to bequeath (for example, those of monetary and sentimental value).
- Any digital assets/assets stored online (including documents, photographs and social media accounts).
Please note: make sure you include how to access your digital assets, such as social media log-in details. Legal advice may have to be sought if your accounts are in US-based or international companies, as these are not covered through Scottish executry law.
- All your beneficiaries (those you want to bequeath your assets to) and who gets what, including any charitable organisations.
- Provisions for children under 16 and dependants who cannot care for themselves.
- Your chosen executors (who will carry out your final wishes after you’re gone).
Choosing Your Executors
Your executors are responsible for dealing with your estate, distributing your assets and carrying out your final wishes according to your Will.
The executors’ responsibilities include:
- Collecting the assets and possessions of the deceased’s estate.
- Filling out and concluding the paperwork associated with the estate.
- Paying any outstanding debts, taxes and fees (including admin and funeral costs) from the estate.
- Paying out the financial assets and ensuring all beneficiaries receive their dues.
While many people choose only one executor, two are recommended to ensure contingency in case someone falls ill or dies before fulfilling their duties.
Executors can be your friends, family, solicitors, bank or accountants. Due to the responsibility of the role, it’s important to think carefully about who you wish to appoint and ensure they consent to become your executor. Even if you have named them in your Will, they have a legal right to say no.
How to Change Your Will
If your circumstances change and you wish to amend your Will (for example, you get remarried, divorced or have children with another partner), you can write a codicil or create an entirely new Will. You cannot amend your existing Will once it’s been signed and witnessed, and any obvious alterations could result in costly legal proceedings to decipher the original, valid Will.
A codicil is a supplement to the Will that allows you to make specific alterations without creating a new Will from scratch, keeping the original intact.
There is no limit to how many codicils you can create. However, they are only suitable for simple, straightforward changes. For any major alterations, you must write a new Will.
Your Loved One’s Future in Safe Hands, with Beveridge, Philp & Ross
Our solicitors will support you through the entire process of creating your Will, giving guidance where needed to ensure your estate and beneficiaries are provided for in a compassionate and professional way.
At Beveridge, Philp & Ross, our years of experience mean we intimately understand the finer points of Scottish executry law and can guarantee a smooth distribution of your assets after you’ve passed to ease the burden of bereavement for those closest to you.
To discuss your requirements, contact Aileen Venables today for a free initial chat on 0131 554 6244 or contact us via email@example.com.