Why You Need a Will and How to Write One

Writing a will is one of the most important things you can do to protect your assets and provide for your loved ones after you pass away. A will lets you decide who inherits your possessions and property, who will look after any children under 18, and who will manage your estate. Without a will, the law decides who gets what, which may not align with your wishes. This article explains why you need a will, how to write one, and when it’s advisable to use a solicitor.

Why You Need a Will

There are several key reasons every adult should have a legal will:

  • Direct your assets where you want. Without a will, your estate will be divided according to intestacy laws, which may go against your wishes. With a will, you choose who inherits your money, property and possessions.
  • Appoint guardians for minor children. If you have children under 18 and pass away, a will allows you to designate guardians to care for them. Otherwise, the courts will decide.
  • Choose an executor for your estate. Your will should name an executor to manage your estate upon your death. This involves carrying out your wishes, paying debts, filing taxes and distributing assets.
  • Create trusts. A will is needed to set up trusts that provide for your beneficiaries in specific ways, like staggered payouts at certain ages.
  • Avoid family disputes. Without clear inheritance instructions, infighting can fracture families. A will makes your wishes legally binding.
  • Minimise inheritance tax. Careful estate planning in your will can help minimise inheritance tax liabilities for your beneficiaries.

How to Write a Will

Writing a watertight will is easier than you may think. Here are the key steps:

  • Make a list of your assets – Detail all your money, property, possessions and any other assets you own. This ensures you don’t accidentally omit anything from your will.
  • Choose beneficiaries – Decide who will inherit your estate. Typically, this includes family members, but you can leave assets to friends, charities, etc. List secondary beneficiaries in case primary ones pass before you.
  • Select guardians – If you have dependent children, pick 1-2 guardians to care for them and manage assets you leave the children until they come of age.
  • Pick an executor – Choose a reliable person to execute your will and manage the probate process. Often this is the spouse or a close friend or relative.
  • Make it legally binding – For your will to be valid, have it witnessed and signed by two neutral parties who are not beneficiaries.
  • Store it safely – Keep the original will safe, either at your solicitor’s or in a fireproof box at home. Give copies to your executor.

Using a Solicitor

While not legally required, hiring a solicitor to help draft your will is advisable, especially if you have a large or complex estate. Here’s when Cheltenham Solicitors can be especially helpful:

  • You have a large estate or many assets. Solicitors in Cheltenham can help ensure everything is covered in your will and estate taxes are minimised.
  • Your situation is complicated. If you want to set up trusts or provide for beneficiaries with special needs, a solicitor can tailor your will accordingly.
  • You have children. Solicitors can make sure guardianship and inheritance arrangements for minor children are airtight.
  • You have property abroad. Special rules may apply if you own property overseas. Cheltenham law firms can ensure your will is effective internationally.
  • You have a business. There are legal complexities around passing on business assets that a solicitor can help navigate.

While the costs may seem high, having a solicitor assist with your will helps ensure it is legally sound and your final wishes are properly carried out.

Writing a comprehensive will prevents chaos and disputes, saving your loved ones stress and hassle later. While drafting a basic will yourself is possible, consulting a solicitor can be wise for complex or high-value estates. Take the time now to prepare this important document.


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