Nobody wants to think about the inevitable. Unfortunately, there will come a time when you have to start thinking about what you will leave behind for your beloved family. Preparing for life after death involves various legalities to protect your wishes and ensure your property and possessions are allocated to the correct parties. While it may initially seem like a complex undertaking, writing a will is one of life’s necessities.
What Is A Will?
A will is a legal document that outlines your wishes concerning your money, property and possessions after your death. In the eyes of the law, a voluntarily written will made by a person of sound mind, and signed in the presence of two witnesses, is the only way to lawfully enforce that the proper parties inherit your assets.
Individuals who die without a valid will, are classed as having died intestate, meaning their assets are distributed according to intestacy law. While this is invariably executed as fairly as possible, it may not align with the specific wishes of the deceased.
Reduce Stress For Your Loved Ones
The passing of a beloved relative or friend is never easy for those left behind. Nobody wants their loved ones worrying about legalities and finances when they should be grieving; hence a clear, comprehensive will is required to ensure your family is provided for and safeguarded. For example, intestacy law will not consider stepchildren or foster children as beneficiaries if they are not legally adopted – unless, of course, you name them in your legally binding will.
Who Has A Right To Your Assets?
The distribution of assets following a death in the family is regrettably notorious for being the cause of disputes. Without a will, according to UK law, the estate belonging to the deceased is passed onto their children, provided there is no surviving legal partner. If there are two or more children, the estate is divided equally between them – this applies to money, property, shares, possessions and money owed. However, any individual has the right to make their own decisions regarding who inherits their assets; therefore, a legally binding will is essential to ensure your estate is distributed to the correct beneficiaries according to your wishes. Keep in mind that although your beneficiaries can be minors, they will not be entitled to receive their share until they reach the age of 18. You also have the right to leave charitable donations, the details of which should be specified in your will.
Should You Hire A Solicitor?
While it is not necessary for a legally valid will to be prepared and witnessed by a solicitor, many individuals find the strict legal requirements overwhelming and often difficult to understand. A good solicitor will help you with everything from decoding legal jargon to explaining missing will insurance. Hiring a lawyer specialising in wills and probate can ensure your will is legally watertight and free from errors and loopholes, granting you peace of mind and financial security.
Responsibility Of Minors
It may not be a pleasant topic, but the safety and well-being of your minor children following the unthinkable is something every parent should consider. As well as your financial assets, your will defines arrangements for any children you have under the age of 18. Your will should name the guardians and trustees you and your children trust to care for them and their rightful assets. Failing to do so could result in the custody of your children being appointed to somebody you wouldn’t have necessarily chosen and may not have their best interests in mind.
The details of your funeral may not be something to which you’ve given much thought, but if you have specific requests, you may want to outline them in your will, along with your burial wishes. According to UK law, funeral wishes are not legally binding – your appointed executor(s) have the right to make decisions regarding funeral arrangements. Furthermore, by the time your will has been retrieved, your family may have already begun the planning process. To ensure that your wishes are met, discuss your funeral plans with a trusted relative or close friend. You may also wish to begin a funeral plan in advance, so you can rest assured that costs are covered when the time comes.
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