Do I need to make a will? Does it need to be done by a professional? I heard you can just write your will on a piece of tissue and it will be valid…?
Will writing has become more common, and thus there is an increasing amount of confusion about the need to make one and the validation of it. It is a common misconception that wills are for the rich, or those with complex financial arrangements. The reality is that anyone dying without having recorded a will is deemed to have died ‘intestate’, meaning that anything left behind is distributed according to the rigid laws of intestacy, and this may not be to those intended. At an already hard time for a grieving family, this can give rise to a whole host of problems.
First of all, anyone dying intestate gives up the right to appoint someone whom they trust to act as the executor of their will. Instead, a professional executor may be appointed by the court, or perhaps an individual who they wouldn’t have chosen themselves.
Secondly, the law sets out exactly how the deceased's estate should be disbursed - with only the first £325,000 being tax-free. This often has disastrous consequences - there are plenty of examples of families having to leave the family home because they are faced with an enormous tax bill. For non-married cohabiters the issue is even worse, as you will not automatically inherit from each other.
Why is making a will important?
Without a will, there are certain rules which dictate how the money, property or possessions should be allocated.
Inheritance tax can be minimised when making a will
Unmarried partners and partners who have not registered a civil partnership cannot inherit from each other without a will.
Making arrangements for guardianship of children if one or both parents die
It is particularly relevant when minor children are involved
Can I write it myself?
Yes, you can simply write a will yourself. However, it is important to remember that a poorly drafted will could cause more problems than it solves. Paying for a will when you can do it yourself may seem like a waste of money, but what price can put on a peace of mind?
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