A will is a legally binding and enforceable document expressly detailing the distribution of property and estate, corresponding asset coordination, and management upon the death of that person. The person who’s estate the will covers is known legally as the testator. The will allows the testator to decide what happens to their money, property, and possessions after their death. This can mean that they are passed on to children and grandchildren, spouses, friends as well as charities and other organizations.
Wills are an important aspect of one’s estate planning, especially when the transition of your entire life’s work, blood and sweat is at stake. Without one, an administrator can be self-applied, (providing they qualify) to distribute and or take possession of an unwilled estate. The administrator may not include all the individuals and/or organizations that were important to the deceased.
Who Can Draft a Will
In the UK, a will can be written by anyone, so long as it is properly drafted and is signed and witnessed correctly. Many people choose to create their own wills for many reasons, including saving on solicitation fees and or possessing the required knowledge on verbiage to be able to. Technically speaking, a solicitor does not need to do this and many people have drafted their will for themselves when they are confident to do so. However, it is a good idea to get a solicitor as many complications can arise from drafting a will without legal help.
The terms which are generally used in the writing of a will are not random and are usually phrase in such a way that they remove any ambiguity or confusion to the meaning and intentions of the testator. With legal experience and years of practice, legal professionals have the requisite knowledge in making sure that the wording of a will is not, in any way open to interpretation. This is important as when the testator passes on, any ambiguous or unclear statements can make it easy for a family member to take legal action in having the will overturned.
Properties of a Properly Drafted Will
Though an individual can legally draft their own will, there are certain features of a will that must be present for the will to be legally binding. A properly drafted will, among other specifications, must include:
● ALL money and property owned by the testator.
● A valid will must be signed by the testator
● A valid will must be witnessed and signed by three independent parties.
● Accounting for the death or inability of a beneficiary to receive inheritances.
● Signatures up on any changes or alterations.
Signing of the Will
A will cannot be legally acknowledged without the true signature of the testator being clearly and legibly affixed. The signature must be able to stand up to scrutiny. The date that the will was written must also be added to the document and must be that of adults by legal age. In the event that a testator is unable to sign the will themselves, the will can be signed on their behalf. In order to exercise this option, the will must be signed in the testator’s presence and the testator must agree that they understood and authorized the contents of the will before it is signed.
Witnessing of the Will
A valid will must be signed by three independent parties, known as witnesses. The will must be signed in their presence and in the event that the will is contested or challenged, they may be required to testify that the testator is the true author of the will and was of a sound mind and disposition at the time of signing it.
Other considerations pertinent to the creation of a will are:
· Correct Spellings
When drafting a will, the testator should ensure that they have the correct spelling of the name of any beneficiary of the will. They should also ensure that there is no doubt about which person the will is naming as a beneficiary by adding certain distinctive descriptions that cannot be mistaken. For example, in order to ensure that a woman doesn’t marry and no longer carries her maiden name, the will may be precise in naming her a beneficiary by including parentage, birth date and even the placement of the birth of the child between her parents. This kind of specific information ensures that at no time, can the will be challenged on the grounds that the beneficiary named may not be the intended person of the testator’s wishes.
· Destroying Previously Drawn Up Wills
When a will is drafted, signed, dated and witnessed, it by-law takes effect, overriding any previously written wills by the testator. To allow for the complete avoidance of a relative having a will contested to have a previously written will take effect, testators are encouraged to destroy any previously written wills.
· Safekeeping of the Will
Wills are a precious document and must be properly stored where they can be safely located at the time they are needed and can be presented in good condition. The will, where ever it is stored, should be in a place that can be found by the executor. A copy of the will may be stored by the estate planning company or lawyer of the testator to be read following their death.
Who Needs a Will?
Everyone should prepare a will to ensure earthly possessions are passed on to the people or causes they care about.
Why Do You Need One?
When everything that you have worked so hard to build depends on a single decision, affecting your loved ones, Most individuals need a legal will which specifies the disbursement of property, allowing them to name an executor, guardians of children, forgiveness debts and estate and property division.
A will allows an individual to make pre-arrangements, thereby avoiding the need for a head of state intervention, which upon the death of an individual, absent of a will, inherits and has the power to distribute the estate of the deceased. In most cases, wills are typewritten legal documents that are signed and witnessed, but some states do recognize other types of wills. In summary, a will provides;
● Funerals and other final expenses; protecting loved ones.
● Avoidance of disputes over property and money among relatives
● Reassurance that your wishes will be carried out and the people and organizations you care about will be acknowledged.
● Protecting your assets for the future of your loved ones.
Can A Will Be Challenged?
A will can be challenged if one or more individuals take issue with the contents therein. This may be due to the relative’s feeling that they were unfairly treated, whether the will is fraudulent or invalid, questioning the mental capability of the deceased at the time of the will being drawn or that the will is somehow not a true representation of the wishes of the deceased. A will may also be challenged if a family member feels that the deceased was coerced or that undue influence was exerted at the time of its preparation.
Family members of a deceased person are cautioned when taking the decision to challenge a will as the result may not always produce a more favorable outcome for the challenger or the family in general, than that of the will. For example, in the event that there is a previously recorded will that has gone unchallenged, this will may take effect in the event that its successive document is challenged. Where there are no existing pre-recorded wills, the laws of intestacy will apply with the abolishment of the challenged will.
Probate is the registration of a will with the Supreme Court and proving that the will is valid and meets the requirements as a true representation of the testator’s wishes and as a public document. Upon the death of a loved one, probate services may be needed to prove the validity of the will. When the will’s probate process has been completed, it may then be enforced by the named executor. The executor may at any time be asked to prove that they are the rightful executor of the will. The proof required is represented by way of the Grant of Probate. During the probate process, a will may be challenged. Roc and Co will represent and guide our clients through the entire probate process and work assiduously on their behalf in the event that the document is contested.
Though in the absence of a legal will priority is given to legal spouses and children by the law, the individual may also wish to include non-legal spouses, children of whom they are not the legal guardian, friends, businesses, other organizations, and charities. This can only be done with their inclusion in a will. For this reason, among others, individuals are encouraged to decide this matter themselves, while there is time. A will ensures that the testator’s wishes are acknowledged upon death.
Wills also ensure a smooth transition and removes any guesswork from the process. Central to most wills are the distribution of a will maker’s property, however, a will can do much more.
Wills are used to documenting and;
– Appoint an executor or executors of estates
– Appoint guardians for children and property
– Create trusts for children or minor beneficiaries
– Forgive debts
– Exclude family members from inheritance and more.
If a person does not decide the distribution of their estate prior to their death, the law automatically divides and distributes the assets to legal spouses and children. The rules are rigid and will not be amended to include non-legal spouses and children, close friends, among others.
Other issues can also arise upon an individual’s death, such as locating legal beneficiaries of the deceased.
What is the Roc and Co Advantage?
At Roc & Co Estate Planning, we are a team of highly qualified and efficient legal practitioners who provide superior, complete guidance and estate planning services, making the will preparation process simple, professional and legally withstanding as to the testator’s expressed preferences. At Roc & Co Estate Planning, we know what it means to make the will planning process simple. We understand the importance of your legacy and securing the future of your loved ones. With this in mind, we strive to ensure we meet your needs and specifications. We believe in providing valuable service by accepting our clients as part of the family and ensuring we take care of them in the greatest time of need.
We also know that situations change. This why we offer flexibility and the ability to change and/or update your will to accommodate any differences.
Reasons to choose Roc and Co. include:
– Secure keeping of your will
– Complete confidentiality
– Timely and efficient execution of will
– Complete control in selecting the best executors and trustees to look after your affairs
– Stress-free planning
– Competitive rates
– Timely and professional advice on inheritance tax planning.
We are the go to estate planners in the UK for all your estate planning needs. Reach out to us at 0800 610 2 101 or contact us via email at email@example.com and let us provide you a stress-free experience preparing your will and providing the peace of mind you and your family deserve.