If you want to be sure your wishes are met after you die, then you must have a will. A will is the only way to make sure your savings and possessions (your estate) go to the people and causes that you care for.
What needs to be included in a will?
Value your estate.
Get an idea of what your estate will be worth by drawing up a list of your assets and debts. Get your assets valued regularly because their value of them can change over time.
Assets may include:
- Your house and any other properties you own.
- Any savings in your bank and building society accounts.
- Insurance or endowment policies.
- Pension funds
- National Savings, such as premium bonds
- Investments such as stocks, shares, or investment trusts
- Car or other vehicles.
- Jewellery, antiques, and other personal belongings
- Household contents.
Decide how you want to divide your estate.
Now that you have your estate valued, you can make specific gifts to particular people and then decide where any property or money left over is to go. You can divide your estate between several people in certain proportions and you should also decide what you want to happen if a beneficiary should die before you do.
Appoint who will sort out your estate and carry out your wishes
An executor is a person responsible for passing on your estate. You can appoint an executor by naming them in your will. The courts can also appoint other people to be responsible for doing this job. Anyone aged 18 or above can be an executor of your will. There is no rule against people named in your will as beneficiaries being your executors. This is common. Above all, you must choose somebody you trust.
Providing for children in your will
If you care for children under 18, your will should set out who will become their guardian if both parents die. If you don’t, the family courts will be left to decide who should raise your children.
Within your will, you can also specify where the money will come from to look after your children. This is usually provided for with trusts.
If children inherit money or property, it’s held in trust until they turn 18 (or until they get married, if earlier).
If you have adult children, the default position is that they will receive an inheritance outright at 18. Some people don’t wish their children to inherit large amounts of money at such a young age. If so, you might want to consider establishing a trust that requires your children to reach a specific age or a milestone, such as stepping onto the property ladder before the money is released.
Instructions for your funeral
People often include a paragraph in their will specifying their wishes for their funeral and the disposal of their body i.e.. where your remains should be buried or scattered.
These instructions aren’t legally-binding, as your executors have decision-making power over your funeral and remains. That said, keep in mind that your will might not be read until your funeral plans are already in place, so it may be wise to share your wishes with a trusted loved one – or even the executor – beforehand.
What makes the Will Valid?
You must sign a will in front of witnesses. If you can’t sign the will, it can also be signed on your behalf, if you’re in the room and it is signed at your direction. However, you must have the mental capacity to make the will, otherwise, the will is invalid.
Any will signed on your behalf must contain a clause saying you understood the contents of the will before it was signed. Your signature to the will must be witnessed by two adults. They must also sign the will in your presence.
Remember to store your Will safely
The best advice McPartland & Sons can give is to leave your will with one of our dedicated legal solicitors.
Contact H McPartland & Sons today in Lurgan or Lisburn to have a chat with a member of our team and find out how we can help you write a Will that ensures your estate, no matter how large or small, is divided according to your wishes. Our solicitors will be familiar with the law and will be able to help you make the most effective choices.