Putting together a will means you control what happens to your possessions when you die and who is to receive them. But did you know there are a number of simple mistakes you can make when writing your will? These common pitfalls can mean you pay more than you need to, or you could even hinder your wishes being carried out.
Are you thinking about writing your will? Here, we’ve put together a list of five challenges you may face along the way and how to avoid them.
- Paying over the odds
Many people will naturally turn to a lawyer for will writing services, but there are other options available. A typical lawyer will charge you between £200-£1,000 and very often you receive less than if you used an online will writing service which could cost as little as £90. Your will is legally binding with an online service, you can print it off and get it signed with witnesses and you’ll receive support along the way at a fraction of the cost. This process is for a more simple will – if you think your wishes are more complex, online providers can often offer you this service, too.
- Failing to have two valid witnesses
This is a vital one – your will is only valid when it’s been signed in the presence of two valid and independent witnesses. But what makes a witness valid?
This is the criteria for valid witnesses:
- They need to be over 18.
- There must be two witnesses – if you have only one, the will won’t be valid.
- They’re required to be physically present when you sign (they can’t leave the room until it’s all complete).
- You must watch the witnesses sign the document.
- They aren’t allowed to benefit from your will – you must make sure the witness doesn’t stand to inherit anything from your will.
To avoid your will being invalid or having to rewrite it, ensure you strictly follow this criteria.
- Forgetting to name an executor
An executor will need to deal with the administration of your will when you die. It’s common for people to neglect to name an executor – in this instance, the probate court will nominate someone to take up the role. Of course, this situation could mean someone who you may not have otherwise chosen ends up administering your estate.
To make things run smoothly, ensure you select an executor. Keep in mind you are able to nominate more than one executor – they can be a professional or family and friends.
- Not storing the will safely
The first thing to keep in mind is photocopies aren’t valid – it has to be the original. When you die, your executors will need this original copy. This is a really important document so you need to store it safely – if it’s at home it will need to be in a secure place. Other options are to store your will with the Probate Service or a legal professional.
- Not changing your will when circumstances change
If you already have a will and then get married, this existing will becomes invalid. Also if you have a child and fail to name a guardian for them, when you pass away the decision could go to the family courts.
Updating your will when circumstances change is important to ensure the smooth administration of your estate when you pass away.