Writing a will is not only important in terms of protecting any inheritance; it is also important in terms of articulating the ongoing guardianship of your children, should the worst ever happen one day. If you do not have a will, November is a good time to get it written as it’s Will Aid month, which means many solicitors in the UK will write your will for free as long as you make a minimum contribution of £90 to charity. David Vaughan, Essex Baby money expert and Chartered Financial Planner explains the importance of writing a will and offers some guidance about how to do it, in our latest finance related blog.
Writing a will is one of those things that is always on the ‘to-do list’ but rarely gets ticked off. Yet suddenly is can be too late.
Why write a will?
It is a common misconception that writing a will is only about who inherits your assets. This is indeed true, but as a parent, other aspects can be just as important.
Specifically a will allows your wishes to be known about the guardianship of your children. If you and your partner both die prematurely, who would look after your children? You might have different views and therefore it is important that these are reconciled before anything happens.
A will allows you to appoint Executors. These are people who act as trustees and have responsibility for the administration of your estate. They will also manage your children’s inheritance, usually until age 18. It is therefore very important that you give consideration to who you wish to appoint as your Executors.
Unmarried couples without a will are at particular risk. The rules of intestacy (that apply when there is no will) make no provision for unmarried partners, meaning that they will inherit nothing. In cases where a partner has children from a previous relationship (and/or is still married to somebody else) things become even more complicated.
How do I write a will?
If your situation is complex it is strongly advised that you seek advice from a solicitor. A local solicitor can be found using the Law Society’s directory at http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/find-a-solicitor/
October is Free Wills Month for over 55s – a charity scheme where participating solicitors offer to write a professional will at no cost in the hope that you will make a bequest to charity. See www.freewillsmonth.org.uk/ for more details.
An alternative charitable scheme runs throughout November. Will Aid www.willaid.org.uk does not impose a minimum age and offers to write a will for a £90 donation to charity (£135 for a couple). Over 1,000 solicitors participate throughout the country.
For those with more straightforward affairs, there are a number of low cost options available. Trade unions and membership organisations often include a will writing service as a benefit of membership – so it is worth checking. Similarly some home insurance policies’ legal cover sometimes provide a will service or templates. There is also a range on online will writing services available, which can offer competitive fees but are unable to cope with more complex cases.
A word of warning
Dying without a will can be a nightmare for those left behind. Having a poorly worded will can result in unintended consequences and put your family’s financial security in jeopardy. Therefore for complete peace of mind it is well worth seeking professional legal advice.
Written by David Vaughan, Chartered Financial Planner at Plan Money. www.plan-money.co.uk