Making a Will
There is no need to use a solicitor when making a Will and thousands of people write their own wills using reference books or 'do it yourself' packs. However, the rules and regulations are extremely complex and there are numerous pitfalls for the unwary. It is generally thought in the legal profession that solicitors make considerably more money out of sorting out messy or unenforceable instructions than they do dealing with accurate and properly drafted and executed documents. The most common errors made by the layman include:-
- being unaware of the precise requirements necessary to execute and sign the document
- failing to distribute all of the assets which may allow the Crown to make a claim
- failure to give instructions on how to re-distribute assets in the event of a beneficiary dying
- altering a will improperly after initial execution
- not taking account of changing relationships including marriages, divorces, births and The Civil Partnership Act.
- failure to consider that dependents may have a prior claim on the estate
Who would look after my young children if I were to die?
Whilst it is clear that family members would rally round in a tragic situation, it is not always clear who would be granted the legal responsibility for the children. Indeed, there could be competing claims from different family members all wanting to do their best for the youngsters.
The best way to avoid all the arguments and to be confident about what would happen is to write a Will and to clearly appoint a Guardian in it.
A Guardian takes on parental responsibility for your children. Normally the role takes effect only if both parents have passed away. A Guardian does not have financial responsibility for the child's money - that is the role of the Executors/Trustees who you also specify in your Will.
Sometimes it is appropriate to nominate the same person to be Guardian and Executor/Trustee. However, often it is a good idea to separate the roles. That way you pick the most appropriate person as Guardian to give the children personal care, and the most appropriate person to look after the finances as Executor/Trustee. Also, separating the roles reduces and conflicts of interest and means that more people are charged with looking out for the youngsters.
Hopefully the roles of Guardian and Trustee are never required - but by creating a simple Will you can be sure who would take care of your children and who would look after their money.
You've made your Will - but will it be found when it is needed?
Having a Will at home is the last place to keep it. All too easily it can be lost, stolen, accidentally thrown away or destroyed in some way. It may become damaged causing the Probate Office to question its validity later on.
That is why we recommend that your Will is stored professionally - somewhere where is will be kept safe but also where it can be found and properly retrieved. Your local bank might store it for you for an annual charge, but if you move or change banks it might not be found in the future.
Your Alder Wills & Probate Ltd consultant can arrange a storage and retrieval service for you. This includes certificates for keeping in your own records to show where the Will is kept, and information to pass to your Executors too so that they know independently about its location. Even if all records are lost, by using a national storage service your Will could be tracked down with a few simple phone calls.