Whether you want to think about it or not, writing a last will and testament is always a good idea as you get older. Although you may be in fine health, the unexpected is always just around the corner and it’s impossible to know what will happen tomorrow. Fortunately, drawing up a will isn’t particularly difficult.

 

You may wish to take legal advice if you find yourself in particularly complex circumstances, are passing on a large estate, or are dividing your property between many people. However most people can put together a simple last will and testament without trouble. In order to help you through the process, we’ve compiled this guide on what you’ll need to do.

How to write a last will and testament

How do I start a last will and testament?

The first step in creating a last will and testament is assessing the value of your estate. This includes any of the following:

  • Property
  • Savings
  • Pensions
  • Insurance
  • Investments
  • Personal possessions (such as jewellery, art or vehicles)
  • Any debts against your name.

This will give you a better idea of what you will pass on to loved ones in the event of your death.

 

You’ll also need to appoint an executor or executors of your last will and testament. These are the people that will ensure your wishes, as written in your will, are carried out. This can be a lot of work, so make sure they understand the responsibility they’re taking on or think about using a professional executor, such as a solicitor.

What do I need to include?

Your last will and testament should be written clearly and concisely and should detail exactly how your estate should be divided and whether you wish to make any donation to charity. You might also choose to specify what your last wishes are concerning your funeral, though this can also be arranged by purchasing a prepaid funeral plan.

 

It’s important to be clear. If anything is left vaguely worded, it can cause unnecessary stress for family members and lead to problems when distributing the inheritance. For this reason it’s always worth giving your last will and testament to a notary or solicitor to look at.

What do I need for the will to be valid?

In order for a last will and testament to be valid, you must sign it in front of two witnesses, each of whom must then sign the will in your presence. These witnesses cannot benefit from the will and will receive nothing upon its execution, even if they are mentioned in the document.

 

It’s also essential that you recognise that you have the mental capacity to make such a will, that you understand its effects and that you have done so voluntarily and without pressure from anybody else. For this reason, many wills begin with an introductory passage that declares who the will is for and then states these facts.

What do I do with my will once I’ve written it?

You can leave it with your solicitor or notary if you have one, or with a friend or family member. You might want to leave it with the witnesses to its signing. That way when you’re gone there can be no confusion or misunderstanding about how your estate is to be divided up and your will executed.

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