Will’s can be tricky business, and they’re a topic nobody talks about due to the sad connotations that come alongside them. However, wills are important in ensuring your assets go where you want them after you’ve passed – even if you don’t have children, you can use your will to do good, such as donating money or possessions to those who need them.
What Is A Will?
A will, also known as ‘a final will and testament’, details how you wish for your assets to be distributed, and, if you have children, how you’d like them to be cared for after your death.
A will is usually written by yourself, describing where you’d like your things to go, and then put into legal wording by a trusted solicitor. You must use legal aid to help you create a valid and legally binding will. If you give a written instruction that is not legally binding to a family member or friend, it can be disputed by someone else who may want to claim your assets.
When Should I Make A Will?
There is no perfect time or age to make a will.
It is a common misconception that you need to be near the end of your life to make one, and in the UK, anyone over the age of 18 can make a will. If you are over 17 and actively serving in the armed forces, you may also be allowed to create one.
Usually, people will only create a will once they feel they have enough assets to be distributed or if there is a specific place they want their belongings to go. Many people feel a greater need for a will once they have assets such as homes, savings and valuable items.
What Happens If I Die Without A Will?
If you die without a will, it will mean that your assets have not been allocated to anyone. This can lead to issues as it means your heirs, family, or relations may make claims to things you didn’t want them to have. This can also lead to significant arguments between them and even lengthy court disputes.
If you are under 18 and you pass away unexpectedly, it is most likely that a court will decide whether your assets should be given to your parents or guardian to decide what to do with.
What Are The Requirements To Make A Will?
To ensure that a will is legally binding, you must follow some rules. For your will to be legally valid in the UK, you must:
- Be 18 or over
- Make it voluntarily
- Be of sound mind
- Make it in writing
- Sign it in the presence of 2 witnesses who are both over 18 and have it signed by them
It’s now possible for the whole will-making process to be done online with the witnesses appearing and signing the document remotely. So long as everyone is in clear view, it is still perfectly legal to do it this way using a registered solicitor.
Why Do You Have To Be Of ‘Sound Mind’?
Being of ‘sound mind’ means that you are conscious and mentally stable when you make the will. This helps to prevent people from taking advantage of you when you’re unwell and trying to make you leave assets to them that you may not want to.
This doesn’t mean you can’t make a will if you struggle with a mental illness. You must, however, be in a conscious state and not under anyone else’s influence.
Remember, what you choose to give to people is your choice, and nobody else should have the power to force your hand when choosing what happens after you pass.
What Happens If I Don’t Have Any Family?
You can leave your earthly possessions and money to anyone; they don’t have to be family. You could leave it to a trusted friend or choose to donate your money to a charity or foundation that means a lot to you.
A will ensures that your money goes where you want it, and nobody swoops in and tries to take something for themselves unrightfully or unlawfully.
What If My Children Are Very Young?
If your children are still very young and you don’t want them to inherit your money until they are older, a legal professional can help you by adding a clause which states when the money will be released to them and where it will stay in the meantime. You could, for example, set up a trust fund that they can access when they’re 18.
When To Start Writing A Will
So, when should you write a will? There is no one answer. However, once you’re over eighteen, if you own any significant assets or have a quantity of savings which you believe could help do good in someone’s life, it is a good idea to create a will to ensure that they get what you want them to.