Writing a valid will: a checklist
Here is a checklist for writing a valid will. It includes items that you should organise and matters that you will want to bear in mind.
- Revoke earlier wills: ordinarily this is done by inserting a revocation clause in your new will.
- Retrieve / destroy copies of earlier wills: this may be sensible to avoid any future confusion.
- Make a basic inventory of your assets: to get an idea of what you have -- you may have more than you think!
- Note down where your assets are located: investment accounts, insurance policies, bank accounts, title deeds -- these may be in a variety of locations.
- Family members?
- Friends / others?
- Specific items?
- Family / close friend(s).
- Professionals: a mix of friends/family and professionals may be desirable.
- For minor children.
- For other vulnerable beneficiaries.
- Major responsibility -- discuss in advance. This is of crucial importance. Someone who agrees to take on a guardianship is taking on a major practical, financial and emotional responsibility.
- Financial provision for guardians -- life insurance proceeds, etc.
- Any trusts to be established in will?
- Trustees (same as executors?).
- Two witnesses (not beneficiaries under will).
- Other (if necessary, appraiser, valuer, commercial property consultant, etc.).
Storage of will
- Solicitor's firm: not required, but often a good practical solution.
- Copies: sometimes it's sensible to give a copy to each executor, trustee and guardian.
- Avoid confusion, avoid competing versions, keep track of copies and electronic versions.
By making a will you can decide what happens to your property and possessions after your death. Although you do not have to make one by law, it is the best way to to make sure your estate is passed on to family and friends exactly as you wish. If you die without a will, your assets may be distributed according to the law rather than your wishes.
If someone dies without making a will, they are said to have died 'intestate'. If this happens, the law sets out who should deal with the deceased's affairs and who should inherit their estate (property, personal possessions and money). This information covers England and Wales only.
It is important to plan ahead to ensure that when you die your estate is shared out exactly as you want it to be. This can be achieved by leaving a will. If you have complex financial affairs, you may wish to consult a solicitor or financial advisor for some help.
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