When is the ‘right’ time to write a Will?

According to the Law Society, only 41% of adults in the UK have a Will. With the COVID-19 pandemic still with us, many more of us are now thinking about writing a Will; but when is the right time?

Do you think that you should write your Will in later life, when you buy your first home, when you get married or have children? The answer is you can never be too young to write a Will when it comes to your property, children and assets.  Once you have written your Will, you should update it as you hit key milestones in your life and as and when your circumstances change. 

It may be a scenario that you do not want to face, but none of us knows how long we are going to live.

As soon as you are old enough, you should be making time to outline in a Will how you want your assets distributed. There are certain rules that come into play should you die without a Will (referred to as Rules of Intestacy), and these rules will dictate how your property, money, possessions and even the guardianship of your children are arranged.  

If you want to be in control of decisions regarding how your assets are distributed following your death, and who would look after your children, writing a Will is essential.

What should be included in your Will?

It is important to write a Will as soon as possible, but do you know what you should consider including in it?

  • A Will needs to list the money, property, and possessions that you have. For example, property, savings, pensions, insurance policies, bank and building society accounts, and shares, all need to be included.
  • You need to include the family members, and or friends, you wish to benefit from your Will. You need to make clear which items, money, and property you are leaving to which beneficiary. You can also include a charity beneficiary if you wish to leave anything to a favourite cause.
  • The guardianship of your children is crucial; within your Will you should clearly lay out who you wish to look after your children until they are 18
  • Digital assets are also important. Some digital assets will have sentimental value, such as family photographs for example, and you may want to specify who will be the beneficiary of these. Others could have a monetary value and should be listed in your will. These could include:
    • High quality photographs and videos to be sold or licensed
    • Cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin
    • Websites and blogs, you may have created
    • Domain names
  • Social media accounts should also be considered. Whilst most people’s social media accounts have little or no monetary value, it may help loved ones come to terms with their loss if they can have access to your accounts. Ensure access to your social media account by including log-in credentials in your Will to help loved ones when the time comes.
  • Finally, you need to include who will carry out your wishes, as set out in the Will. These people are your executors.

What types of Will are available?

Single Will

For individuals, people not in a relationship, people who are divorced, or people in a relationship who have different wishes to their partner, a Single Will is the most suitable.

In a Single Will, you lay out how your assets are divided, and the Will is signed in front of witnesses.

Mirror Will

If you are in a relationship and you have the same wishes as your partner, then a Mirror Will would be the Will for you.

When one of the couple dies, the entire estate is passed on to the surviving individual and when that individual dies, the estate is distributed according to the wishes laid out in the Will.

With a Mirror Will, there needs to be trust between the couple, as the remaining individual, from the relationship, is within their rights to change the Will and change the beneficiaries and what they receive.

This can become a problem if the remaining individual remarries, as in some instances the Will can be changed and the assets left to the new spouse.

You can prevent this by ring-fencing parts of your Will for specific beneficiaries by using a Trust Will.

Trust Wills

Trust Wills give you flexibility over your wishes for your estate and how it is managed. There are a few Trust Wills to consider:

Discretionary Trust Will

This type of Will is used to leave your estate, or part of it, to a Trust created in your Will and will only come into play after your death. If you have children under 18, or any other beneficiaries who are unable to manage their own finances, these Trusts are useful, as there will be an allocated Trustee to manage the estate on the Trustees behalf.

Property Trust Will

A Property Trust Will protects your property. An example of how a Property Trust Will is of benefit, is if you want to leave your property to your children, but you wish to let your spouse live in the property until they die. For example, if you have remarried and your wish is for your home to ultimately pass on to your children, you should consider a Property Trust Will.

A Flexible Life Interest Trust Will

A Life Interest Trust is like a Property Trust Will but rather than protecting your property, it protects your assets.

For example, a spouse can still have access to funds for their needs, but on their death the assets pass on to the beneficiaries, who are often the children.

Living Will

Another kind of Will is a Living Will, legally referred to as Advance Decisions. A Living Will typically outlines any medical treatments you do not choose to have in the future. This Will is used when you are unable to make these decisions for yourself.

Living Wills are normally used to refuse life-sustaining treatments such as CPR or from being put on a ventilator. These Wills can also be used to refuse certain treatments for cancer such as refusing surgery.

A Living Will is legally binding in England and Wales.

Who should draw up your Will?

There are three main options available to you when it comes to writing your Will and these are:

A Will writing service

A professional Will writing service employs professionals to support and advise you through writing your will and they will ensure that your Will adheres to your wishes and is legally binding.

A good Will writing service will also remind you of when to check and potentially update your Will so that you are incorporating key milestones as and when they occur.

Wills by a legal practitioner

A legal practitioner will ensure that your Will is drawn up to your wishes and, although this can be a more expensive option, it can ultimately save a lot of stress for those left behind.

If you run a business, have assets overseas, will need to pay inheritance tax, or if your family situation is complicated, you should consider using a legal practitioner to write your Will.

DIY Wills

A DIY Will, where you write your own Will, is certainly the cheapest option, but it may also be the riskiest.

Will templates are available to download online or you can purchase them from stationery shops.

A DIY Will is really only suitable for an individual whose wishes are very straightforward. For example, a single person or couple who may have one child and everything they own will be bequeathed to them. Or, if you have more than one child and your possessions are to be split evenly between the children, you could consider a DIY Will.

If you are drafting your own Will, ensure that it is signed, witnessed, and dated correctly, that any previous Wills are revoked, and that it is stored safely and securely.

Even if your wishes are relatively straightforward, remember that, as your Will has not been drawn up by a professional or a legal practitioner, it is more likely that it could be successfully contested after your death. In addition, tax laws around inheritance could change between when you write your Will and your death, which could affect your Will.

For professional advice, support and help in writing your Will call Adroit on 0333 355 2964.