Writing a will

For many of us writing a will is the last thing we want to do or talk about. One in three people in the UK died last year without leaving a will, but it is clinically proven that writing a will does not bring forward death! So – if your parents haven’t yet made a will, or if you or your family don’t know what is in their wills, it is suggested that you try and start the conversations. One of the most important reasons to write a will is to ensure that wishes, particularly with regard to any care, can be met and funded when the time comes.

Key considerations when writing a will:
• Take into account all the money, property and other assets available when writing a will
• The possibility that a beneficiary might die before the person making the will;
• For a will to be valid it must be signed by the author/originator and by 2 witnesses
• At least one (ideally 2) Executor should be appointed
• Whilst a solicitor isn’t required to write a will, it’s worth taking advice to ensure the will is interpreted when executed in the way that the originator wished (particularly if written without expert help)
• Use a codicil to add changes to a will; for major changes, make a new will which explains that it revokes all previous wills and codicils. Destroy the old will to avoid any confusion.
• Put it in a safe place – either at home or with the bank/solicitor or companies that store wills – and be sure to tell the executors where it is.

Find a solicitor – www.lawsociety.org.uk/find-a-solicitor and search under Wills and probate. There is lots of useful advice, with links here for more information:

Money Advice Service/Wills
www.gov.uk/Wills
The Law Society
Citizens Advice

Probate and Dying Intestate
Probate is required when assets of a dead person are worth more than £5,000 and/or when a property is held in sole or joint ownership. Essentially probate involves collecting all the assets, settling all the debts and tax liabilities and correctly distributing the remainder of the estate to the beneficiaries in accordance with the Will, or Rules of Intestacy.

If there is a will, it should name one or more executors who will administer the estate. In order to do this, executors may need to apply to The Probate registry for a grant of probate. If there is no will – dying intestate – an application for a grant of letters of administration will need to be made, issued by the court, which allows administrators to be appointed to administer the estate.

The administrator (or personal representative) will usually be a close relative of the person who has died. Who the administrator is will be determined by a set order of priority which a solicitor can advise on. For more information, download the forms

You might also be interested in reading about how to register a death.

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