Top tips for writing a will


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Top tips for writing a will

  1. 1. Top ten tips for writing a Will 1 SEEK PROFESSIONAL ADVICE  It is important to seek the advice of a competent professional before drafting your Will.  Even if you decide that you do not want to go through the expense of using a Solicitor or Specialist Will writer it makes sense to take advantage of any free advice available to you. Many consultants will offer free no obligation consultations and advice is also available from the Citizens Advice Bureau free of charge. 2. BE MINDFUL OF INHERITANCE TAX  The current IHT threshold is £325,000. This means that any estate that exceeds this value will be liable to pay inheritance tax at a rate of 40% of anything above the threshold.  There are a number of ways estate planning can be used to reduce IHT liability, so if you believe that it may be an issue be sure to ask your adviser about IHT mitigation. 3. CHOOSE YOUR EXECUTORS & TRUSTEES CAREFULLY  Most testators elect friends and family members to be their executors and trustees but few understand what the roles involve.
  2. 2.  Executors are responsible for distributing your estate in accordance with your Will after you have died. The role carries a huge amount of responsibility and executors can be held personally liable for any loss suffered by the estate and its beneficiaries if they fail to carry out their duties properly.  A trustee takes legal ownership of trust property and can generally use wide discretion when dealing with the property (subject to restrictions of the Trust and their fiduciary duties). It is therefore extremely important that you choose a trustee who is financially competent and who you believe will act in good faith and the best interests of all the Beneficiaries of the Trust. 5. APPOINT APPROPRIATE GUARDIANS  If you have children under the age of eighteen it is important to consider who you would want to look after your children in the event that you are not around to take care of them. The most practical way to do this is to appoint a guardian in your Will. 6. MAKE SURE THE TERMS OF YOUR WILL ARE CLEAR If your Will lacks clarity your executors may need to seek legal advice before administering your estate or risk personal liability. This can be costly and time consuming so it is always best to ensure your Will is easily understood.
  3. 3. 7. ALWAYS NOMINATE A RESIDUARY BENEFICIARY  Nominating a residuary beneficiary in your Will is the easiest way to avoid a partial intestacy and should be done even if you think your estate is very small as you may own property that you have forgotten about or are unaware of. 8. MAKE SURE YOUR WILL IS CORRECTLY SIGNED & ATTESTED  Under the Laws of England and Wales a Will needs to be signed by two witnesses.  The document must be signed by the testator in front of both witnesses and vice versa in order to be legally valid. Failure to properly sign a Will may lead to it being challenged later.  Make sure the Will is not signed by any beneficiaries (or their spouse/civil partner) as they will forfeit their right to receive their gift1.  Choose witnesses who are over 18 years old and of sound mind to avoid concerns over suitability.  Always date your Will so that your executors can tell that it is your “last will and testament”. 1 Section 15 Wills Act 1837
  4. 4. 9. TAKE CARE OF YOUR WILL  Your original Will is the only copy acceptable at Probate (save for exceptional circumstances). It is extremely important that you keep it in a safe place once it has been correctly signed and witnessed. 10. ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOUR WILL REFLECTS YOUR CURRENT CIRCUMSTANCES  It is easy to write a Will and then forget all about it. Ironically a Will is a living document that should be reviewed every three to five years to ensure that it still reflects your circumstances and does exactly what you want it to do. For further information on writing a Will you can view our wills tutorial at If you have a specific question or would like to arrange a free consultation contact us at or call us on 0121 616 5007. Published 7th January 2014 ©2014 Wilvolution®