Creating a Will is essential during your lifetime
Everyone over the age of 18 should have a Will in place which they should review every few years. Additionally, it should be reviewed if there is a significant change in your life such as marriage, children, the purchase of a property or divorce.
There are legal requirements for a Will to be legally valid; it is not enough to make verbal promises or to write down how you would like to divide your estate. Make your wishes known within a valid Will.
Important things to consider:
- If you own property outside of England and Wales your foreign assets may have to be distributed according to the laws in that country. This means that you may require more than one Will.
- If you have jointly owned assets it is important to note on death the jointly owned asset will automatically pass to the survivor regardless of what is stated in your Will. There are however steps that can be taken in order to overcome this issue.
- A Will only takes effect after you pass away. If you lack capacity during your lifetime you will require separate documents known as Lasting Power of Attorney. However, you must create this while you have the capacity to do so.
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If you die without having a valid Will in place, the Rules of Intestacy will determine how to distribute your estate.
You may be surprised to learn that the Rules of Intestacy do not cater for unmarried couples, even if they are engaged or living together, the law will not take this into account.
If there are no surviving blood relatives your estate will go to the Crown.
When having your Will drafted you will need to think of at least one Executor to name in your Will. This is the person who will collect in your assets and distribute them in accordance with your Will.
You can name a professional or a friend or family member to act as your Executor.
You should also consider funeral wishes and what gifts you would like to leave in your Will.
If you are excluding a certain individual from your Will, it is important that the relevant steps are taken in order to protect your estate from any potential claims.
There has been a rise in contentious probate claims recently, therefore if you believe your estate could be challenged, certain steps should be taken to reduce the risk of a successful claim.
If you have young children, you are able to appoint one or more guardians within your Will.
Furthermore, if you are leaving your children an inheritance and they have not reached the age of 18, they will require someone to look after this money until they are old enough to inherit.
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