Where There’s A Will, It’s Never Too Late
Hello everyone, and welcome back to my blog! Today, I’ll be tackling a rather difficult yet very important subject – that of wills. Leaving something behind for our loved ones is perhaps one of the most potent sources of internal peace that you can give yourself. Think of it that way:
You started from the very bottom. At first, you had nothing but the clothes on your back and your willpower. Then you had an idea. You got to work. You gave your idea months, years, maybe even decades of your life. You saw your project grow from a hectic plan, hastily scribbled down on a piece of paper to a wonderful, practical solution. Something that gave value to your customers, security to your employees and business partners, and wealth to you and your loved ones.
And, as your project grew, so did you. You learned new things, you expanded your horizons, you pushed outside of your comfort zone, you built a vast range of connections. Naturally, you tried your best to help your loved enjoy these benefits as well. You got an excellent home for your family, gave your kids the education that they deserved, you encouraged them to pursue their passions…
Looking back at your life, you can’t see much that you would’ve done differently. Everything has worked out swimmingly, and you’re exactly where you’ve always wanted to be. You’ve done well! Check out my other blogs such as, “19 Tips On How To Declutter Your Life“.
But alas, our time on this earth is finite. And, as the years roll by, one after another, you can feel the burden of time catching up. You can no longer put in the time or energy that you once did into your project. You can’t keep showing up before everyone else, you can no longer be the last one out of the office. Your seemingly infinite wellspring of ideas is beginning to dry out.
All of this is natural. It’s a part of life, and nobody can escape it. But don’t worry, you can do the next best thing – you can prepare a proper will! Because if you don’t, everything that you’ve worked for might be for nothing. If you don’t take care of the “boring technicalities”, the “legal stuff”, your loved ones might find themselves left without the financial security that you once gave them.
And I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to see everything that I’ve worked for to just go poof. Well, it’s not like I’d be able to physically witness it evaporating, but you get my point.
The importance of having a will
In my home country, the legal system is much different than in the UK. In Bulgaria, if someone passes without having a will, their assets will go to their immediate family – their parents, their partner, and their children. In the UK, however, things work very differently. If something was to happen to me, and I didn’t have a will, all of my assets would go to the government.
As soon as I learned about this system, I called my lawyer, and he walked me through the process of creating a will.
How do I make a will?
And, if the above paragraphs have inspired you to prepare your own will, don’t worry – the process isn’t nearly as daunting as you’d think. As a matter of fact, putting a will together is quite simple. All you need is a pen, a sheet of paper, one or more witnesses (who aren’t listed as beneficiaries in your will), and your signature! This being said, there are a few requirements that you need to follow if you don’t want your will to turn out invalid.
As it turns out, will-related issues can be quite a hassle to resolve and can even get your loved ones in a problematic situation. Please ensure that your instructions are clear, easy to understand, and straightforward to follow – you won’t be around to explain things anymore.
The original version of your will needs to be signed not just by you, but also by a couple of other people, who aren’t listed as beneficiaries. These people are going to be your witnesses. And even though these people aren’t eligible for inheritance (unless you’re looking for a way to invalidate your will from the get-go), they can be named as executors.
Okay, so what are executors? They are the people who will be there to ensure that your wishes are carried out in accordance with the will. Ideally, you’d have at least two executors (a “main” executor and a substitute), but there’s no hard requirement here. Please make sure that your executors are trustworthy, as there is always the potential of things going south.
What can I leave in my will?
Your will can cover a lot of different points, from who gets your assets, all the way to who looks after your children. Before you sit down and get writing, I’d suggest that you think about your assets, along with any additional things that you’d like to leave for your loved ones. Things like sentimental items, photos, pictures, collections, scrapbooks, and so on, can also be noted down in your will. Additionally, if you’ve currently got young children, you should consider who is best suited to take care of them. Finally, you can also note any specific funeral-related instructions in your will.
No matter how long and hard you think about it, chances are that you’ll miss a portion of your assets. This is where residuary gifts come in. Including someone in your residuary gifts section will allow them to inherit everything that you haven’t otherwise given away in your will. Residuary gifts are extremely helpful in situations where one of your heirs also passes away before you do. If you do not add a residuary gift section, the remainder of your estate will be divided up according to the laws of intestacy.
When crafting a will, you need to be extra careful. Any amendments, crossed out words, or other signs of “meddling” with the document can give grounds for validity challenges. I’d also advise you to number your pages and avoid leaving any blank spaces, to prevent any potential tampering attempts.
How much does writing your will cost
If you go to a solicitor, bank, or a specialized will writer, you’ll need to pay a nominal fee, depending on your particular situation. The simple wills start from around £80 and can go up to a few hundred pounds. In case you and your partner decide to have substantively the same wills (or “mirror wills” as the terminology goes), you’ll probably be able to get a discount if you write both of the documents at once.
Going the DIY way can save you quite a bit of money. Still, you might run into unforeseen difficulties, especially if you’re trying to leave substantial assets behind. I’d suggest that you always seek a professional opinion, even if you’re dead-set on writing it all on your own. Leaving ambiguous, or worse – invalid instructions will make everything a whole lot more complicated for your loved ones. Additionally, you can also write the document yourself, but pay a professional to review it.
Professional solicitors will be able to write the entire thing for you and ensure that everything is in order. It is worth noting, however, that this is also the most expensive option, as solicitor fees tend to be rather high. On the other hand, using a professional service allows you to relax in the knowledge, no legal issues will pop up at a later date. Your lawyer can advise you on what exactly is achievable with your will and provide tips on avoiding ambiguity. You should consider this option if:
- Your estate is liable for inheritance tax.
- You’re in a complicated family situation – former partners, children from previous marriages, and so on
- One of your family members or friends has special needs – ensuring that your loved ones are adequately taken care of can be surprisingly tricky
- You’ve got assets in other countries
After writing your will, solicitors can also offer you a storage option, for a fee of course. This can provide you with an additional safety net should any problems arise in the future. The regulating bodies depend on where you are located:
- For England and Wales – Solicitors Regulation Authority
- For Scotland – the Scottish Law Society Northern
- For Ireland – Northern Ireland Law Society.
Banks and bank will-writing services
Most banks also offer will-writing services, at a rate much lower than that of your average lawyer. Still, this comes at a cost. Not only are there a lot of less-than-obvious fees involved, but you’re unlikely to get an unbiased consultation. If you choose to use a bank for this, please be wary of any clauses that might allow the will-writing company any rights on administering your estate, as well as any charge fees for doing so. Even if your estate happens to be relatively straightforward, you might find yourself forced to pay as high as 5% of your estate. Furthermore, if your bank doesn’t allow you to appoint your own executors within the will writing service, you’d want to look elsewhere.
And that about covers the basics of wills and will-writing. I hope this article has helped you learn a bit more about the legal process, surrounding wills in the UK.
If you’ve enjoyed this post and you’re eager to learn more about finances and financial success, I’ve got just the thing for you in the resource section down below!
But what about you – have you prepared a will yet? Did you consult a professional about it? As always, if you think that there’s something I missed, or if you’d like to share your personal opinion on the subject, please leave me a message in the comments below – I always love hearing from you!
Thank you all for reading, and until next time:
Stay green and motivated!
Suggested Books & Further Reading
- All of my articles on Success and Effective Living
- Dealing with failure
- Dealing with the inevitable roadblocks
- Understanding Individual Savings Accounts
- Take control of your future
- How and why you should look into investing
- How I got into property investing and why I like it so much
- How aspiring investors can leverage the stock market
- A quick write-up on the differences between credit and debit cards
Recommended books for further reading:
- Start Now. Get Perfect Later
- How To Stop Worrying And Start Living (Personal Development)
- The 5 Second Rule: The Surprisingly Simple Way to Live, Love, and Speak with Courage
- Declutter Your Mind: How to Stop Worrying, Relieve Anxiety, and Eliminate Negative Thinking
- Low Cost High Life: Live an Affordable Life of Luxury