Useful information about making a legal will or last testament including advice on writing wills and where to look for help with probate..
Although talk of wills at a time filled with the joy and excitement of preparing for a new baby may seem unecessarily morbid, it is important. Part of the responsibility of becoming a parent is providing for your child's future and this should extend to being prepared for even the worst, most unimaginable circumstances.
The only way to ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death is to make a will and update it after any life-changing events. This is especially important if you live with a partner you are not married to (as they will not automatically inherit your property as they would do if you were married and would have to go to court to claim a share) and if you have children.
When making a will you should include......
- Any property, valuable possessions, financial assets and insurance you own.
- Any wishes and instructions for your funeral
- How you would like to divide your estate and who should benefit from your will (i.e. what should be left to whom)
- Details of parental responsibility - if you are unmarried and have not registered parental responsibility to the biological father or your current partner, they may have difficulty authorising desicions involving your child, including getting medical treatment, taking them abroad and deciding which school they will attend.
- Details of the appointed guardian - the person that will look after your children until they reach the age of 18 in the event of your death. This will usually be a close friend or family member. Before naming an individual as guardian in your will you should always discuss it with them first.
- Details of any financial help for the appointed guardian
- Details of any Trusts set up for your children - this is when a sum of money is left 'in trust' for your children and is not accessible to them
until they reach the age of 18 or 21 (depending on your instructions). You will need to appoint a trustee to look after the money until they reach the specified age.
There are several ways to write a will......
- Solicitors - These tend to charge a flat fee for their will writing service which can vary between Â£Â£50 and Â£Â£300+ depending on the complexity of the estate. Although it is not essential to use a solicitor when you write your will, if you have complex circumstances, such as stepchildren, or children from a previous marriage or if you require inheritance tax planning, then it may be advisable to ensure that your wishes are stated correctly and that the will is valid.
- Will Writers - These are also likely to charge a flat fee for a will writing service. You should shop around to compare prices and quality as the level of expertise and service provided can vary greatly. When choosing a will writer check whether they are covered with indemnity insurance as this is not compulsory.
- Internet Packages - If your circumstances are relatively simple and you are computer literate then a downloadable will writing package from the internet may be an economical option. The packages are designed to guide you through the process of writing a will, but ultimately you will be responsible for ensuring that it is valid and signed by appropriate witnesses
- Books - If you are very comfident of your ability to write your own will and have very simple wishes, there are a wide variery of will writing guides availble that willl guide you through the process.
When writing a will it is important to be aware of the implications of Inheritance Tax - due to the sharp increase in property value this is no longer a tax for the wealthy and without proper precautions up to 40% of your estate could go to the government in the event of your death. The 2006/2007 estate limit over which you will be liable to pay this tax is Â£285,000. If you believe that your property or a combination of your property and possessions are of a value greater than this amount it is important to get some financial advice before making your will.
By making a will and updating it if your circumstances change (such as having another child, getting divorced, seperated or married) you can be sure that in the event of you or your partners death, your children will be provided and cared for in accordance with your wishes.
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