Information Unlimited

ALL THE FACTS YOU NEED TO AVOID HEARTACHE No.14 MAKING A WILL

Wills

Over pounds 2bn is left each year in the UK by people who haven't made a will.

The vast majority of disputes involving wills which reach the courts arise from home-made wills.

Over 2,000 solicitors' offices in the UK are taking part in Will Aid '98, a scheme to encourage people to prepare their will. Throughout the month of November, instead of charging to prepare wills, solicitors will ask for a donation and the money raised goes to various charities.

Reasons for having a will

By making a will, you choose who inherits your assets. If you die without a will, the state makes the decision for you and it may not be what you would want.

If you are in a relationship but unmarried, your partner will not receive anything if you die without a will.

If you are married and have children, your husband or wife may not receive everything you own unless you have a will.

If you made a will some years ago, you may need to review it to take account of changes in the law or changes in your personal circumstances - moved house, divorced etc.

Marriage or remarriage invalidates any previous will.

Divorce affects a will but separation doesn't.

If you have children, a will allows you to appoint legally guardians for them and ensure their financial security.

Tips about wills

Anyone over the age of 18 in England and Wales is eligible to make a will. The age for making a will is lower in Scotland.

To be legally binding, a will must be properly drawn up, signed and witnessed by two people. Beneficiaries or their spouses cannot be witnesses.

Partners should make separate wills

When someone dies, all their assets are frozen until probate is granted. Before the instructions in their will can be carried out, probate or official validation needs to be obtained from the local probate registry and none of their property should be sold, or given away, until it has been granted. If the estate is worth less than pounds 5000, probate is not normally required.

Both you and your partner should make separate wills.

By organising things ahead of time, you can make your will more tax- efficient. Accountants can help you divide your assets in a way which allows your beneficiaries to avoid paying so much inheritance tax.

Keep your will in a safe place and advise your executors as to where it is

A will deals with:

- the appointment of the executors;

- guardians for children;

- funeral wishes;

- distribution of property and assets;

- grants powers to the executors which they will need in order to carry out their duties properly.

Administering an estate

Executors and Administrators are people appointed to wind up the estate of the deceased. If there has been a will, executors should have been appointed. The executor settles all debts, obtains pay-outs on life insurance policies and transfers ownership of property to the beneficiaries.

You don't have to appoint a professional to administer your estate; you can appoint friends or relatives.

Who can help

Legally, you can draw up a will by yourself but if your affairs are in any way complicated, you should have it drawn up by a solicitor. If for example, you own your own business, are involved in insurance syndicates, family or charitable trusts you should definitely consult a professional.

Solicitors costs can vary from pounds 50 to pounds 1000, depending on the size of your assets and the detail required.

Banks, building societies and some life insurance companies offer will- making services but sometimes they also insist on being appointed as the executors. As they charge to do this, it should only be considered if it is difficult to appoint friends or relatives as executors.

Charities, such as Oxfam or help the Aged, sometimes offer the service, in the hope that you will leave them something in the will.

Professional will writers can be cheaper than solicitors. Contact the Institute of Professional Willwriters on 01905 611165.

DIY packs are available in stationery shops but may not be appropriate for your needs and care needs to be taken with wording. If you make an error or your instructions are not clear, your will may be rendered invalid or require interpretation by a court. For DIY advice, try Which? and Probate, pounds 10.99, and What to do when someone dies, Paul Harris, pounds 9.99

Useful numbers

Society of Will Writers - 0800 838270

Institute of Professional Will Writers - 01905 611165.

Will Aid Helpline - 0870 60 60 239

`Women Unlimited: The Directory for Life', published by Penguin at pounds 9.99

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music
Arts and Entertainment
Blue singer Simon Webbe will be confirmed for Strictly Come Dancing

tv
Arts and Entertainment
'The Great British Bake Off' showcases food at its most sumptuous
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape