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Six basic steps to making a will

PUBLISHED: 16:36 24 September 2019

If you want to ensure that your estate is distributed among your beneficiaries without complications, making a will is essential. Picture: Getty Images

If you want to ensure that your estate is distributed among your beneficiaries without complications, making a will is essential. Picture: Getty Images

CHAINARONG THUEANSRI

Though it may be tempting to delay making a will, it's essential if you want to ensure your estate is distributed among your beneficiaries without complications. Here Teresa Callender takes a look at the six basic steps involved and why it's a good idea to seek professional legal assistance.

1 The contents of your will

The first step in creating a will is to have your estate valued and to determine what assets you have to distribute among family and friends. This will involve looking at both your assets and debts to ensure that you have a comprehensive understanding of what you have to leave to your beneficiaries.

2 The distribution of those contents

Having established what assets, including personal belongings, you have to pass on to inheritors, you next need to determine how these assets will be distributed. Most people writing their will have a relatively clear idea of how they want to divide their estate and to whom certain assets will go.

3 Choosing an executor

The executor of a will is the individual who ensures that the terms of the will are carried out precisely and in accordance with your written wishes. The executor should be someone who is willing to assume the role upon your death and who will carry out the role in an impartial manner. They can be family members, a close friend, or a legal representative.

4 Your children and your will

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If you have children who are still relatively young, there are a number of considerations you may want to make when writing your will. First, it may be necessary to appoint a guardian for your children who will be responsible for their care should something happen to both parents. This includes provisions for step and adopted children and how best to make provision for disabled children, immediately and in the long-term. Second, if you're not convinced that your children are of a suitable age to be made fully responsible for their inheritance, it may be a good idea to appoint someone to manage it for them until they reach an agreed age, or set up a trust fund to be accessed by the child at a certain age (usually at age 18 or 21).

5 Witnessing the will

The final step in writing an official will is having it witnessed. To be valid, all wills must be signed and this process must be witnessed by two individuals. Wills also need to be signed by an individual who is doing so voluntarily, without any coercion from another person, and who is in a sound mental state and understands the consequences of their actions.

6 Seeking professional legal advice

It is advisable to seek professional advice as not doing so could result in a number of long-term problems. It is also important to update your will whenever there have been changes, such as marriage, divorce, separation, births or deaths, but minor changes can be covered by a codicil (a legally binding amendment).

Please contact Spire Solicitors LLP on 01603 677077 for more information.

This column is sponsored by Spire Solicitors LLP.

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