A will is intended to be a legal document that sets out your wishes about your funeral arrangements and the distribution of your property and money after you die.
However there are some common misconceptions that you should be aware of:-
- If you don’t have a will the law will decide who inherits all you assets. This will usually be your spouse and /or children, but if there is no spouse or children the law will decide who should inherit. Without a will there could be people who you wanted to inherit something that receive nothing after you have gone.
- Not all wills are valid. A will can only be considered a legally binding document if it fulfils certain criteria – the person writing the will must be at least 18 years old and be of ‘sound mind’. The will should name an executor and leave clear instruction for them to deal with your estate. It should be signed by 2 witnesses to make the will valid.
- Wills can be updated if there are small changes and additions you wish to make. However, if there are major changes it is possible to revoke the first will and write a new one.
- Wills can be damaged or lost. If this does happen it will be treated as if the will never existed and the courts will decide what happens to the estate. A record of the will and its contents should be kept safe with your bank or solicitor.
- It is possible to contest a will. Someone can question the validity of a will if they believe the will was written by a person, who was not of ‘sound mind’, or written under duress, or produced fraudulently.
- Probate can be mitigated. The expensive and time consuming process of probate can be avoided if you plan your will carefully.
Wills can be complicated documents so it is a good idea to seek the advice of a qualified solicitor, who specializes in Wills & Probate.
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