Tuesday, March 15th, 2016
Amnesty International UK are hosting ‘make a will fortnight’ that runs from the 7th of March until the 20th. This is aimed at encouraging people to write a will as almost two thirds of the UK population do not have one.
A will is a legal document that says what happens to your money, property and possessions after your death. In your will you should specify who you want to benefit from it, who should look after your children if they are under 18, and who is going to be the executor of the will.
This is the person who will carry out the wishes of the will. You will also decide what will happen if the people you want to benefit from the will die before you.
The most common type of will is a self-proving will. Also known as a testament will this is the most traditional will that people are generally familiar with. It is a formally prepared document that is signed in the presence of a witness.
A holographic will is written without the presence of a witness. These types of wills rarely hold up in court.
An oral will is a spoken testament given before witnesses. They are not widely recognised from a legal perspective.
A living will sets forth your wishes for medical care in terms of life support and medication should you be incapacitated.
Creating a will gives you discretion over the distribution of your possessions. It lets you decide how your belongings, such as cars or family heirlooms should be distributed.
If you have minor children, a will lets you decide how they will be cared for.
If you have children from a prior marriage, even if they are adults, your will can dictate the assets they receive. Creating a will also minimises tensions between survivors. A will also allows you to donate any money you would like to charity.
If you die without a will the law decides who gets what and there can be difficulties and unforeseen costs for your relatives, not to mention that your wishes will not necessarily be in accordance with what the law states should happen to your estate. Without a will you risk your family losing out on a large portion of their inheritance to the taxman.
It is important to seek legal advice when writing a will in order to make sure everything is legally binding. You should always seek legal advice if your will isn’t straightforward, such as if you share a property with someone who isn’t your husband, wife or civil partner, or you have wishes that may cause disagreement or controversy amongst your family or beneficiaries.