Help with making and updating your Will

Making a Will is very important. It provides you with the opportunity to set down your wishes about what should happen after you’ve died. It means that loved ones, friends and the charities you support are cared for and protected.

Your Will should set out

  • who you want to benefit from your will
  • who should look after any children under 18
  • who is going to sort out your estate and carry out your wishes after your death (your executor)
  • what happens if the people you want to benefit die before you.
  • We strongly suggest that you use a qualified solicitor to write a new Will or to amend an existing Will. You can find a local solicitor using the Law Society’s website – it is important to bear in mind, however, that the law regarding will writing is not the same throughout the UK.
  • Before visiting your solicitor, it’s useful to have an idea of the value of your estate, and who you want to benefit from your Will – and in what proportion. Below is a guide of things you might like to note down before you go and visit your solicitor:

Think about your estate

  • First, make a list of everything you own and what it’s worth (assets)
  • Then, deduct any money you owe (liabilities)
  • Don’t forget to include any life assurance policies and pension assets (if not already assigned or written in trust)
  • Define a ‘working budget’ (the difference between assets and liabilities)

Think about the beneficiaries

A young boy cyclingFirstly, make a list of who you want to benefit from your will, including family, friends and charities.

  • Consider how much of your estate you would like each person or group to inherit
  • Note any particular items (such as jewellery, pictures   or heirlooms) that you want to give to specific people
  • If you have children under 18, don’t forget to appoint guardians to care for them.

Think about your Executors

  • Choose people whom you know well and trust: they could include family members, friends and perhaps a professional person (remember they may want to charge for this service)
  • The Will must be signed by you in the presence of two witnesses – who cannot be beneficiaries or their partners
  • If you change your Will, any changes must be signed and witnessed

Get your paperwork together

  • Make a list of your ‘working budget’ (the difference between your assets and liabilities)
  • Make a list of the names and addresses of the beneficiaries
  • Set up a folder containing all the important information you’ll need to take to your solicitor.

Don’t forget: Review your Will when circumstances change

  • If you divorce
  • If your partner dies
  • Your children have children of their own

Keep your Will safe

  • It’s important that those who need to can find your Will – you might want to let a close friend or relative know where it is stored.
  • Keep your Will in a safe place.
  • Consider registering your Will. It’s not a legal requirement, but various companies offer – and charge for – the service.

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