I’ll do it tomorrow. It’ll take a long time. It’s too expensive. I’ve got too much else to do.
There are lots of reasons not to make a will. Or to put it another way, lots of excuses. Because the reality is that making a will doesn’t take very long, needn’t cost a lot and is hugely important.
You wouldn’t try to put off taking out home or car insurance, and in the same way a will offers protection to your loved ones after you die. Not the most pleasant subject maybe, but one which you do need to address.
To show you how straightforward it can be, we’ve put together our top three tips for making a will.
Of course it will depend on your circumstances, but these can act as a guide for the kinds of things you need to consider to make sure your wishes are followed to the letter.
1 Getting the right executor
This means the person who will make sure your instructions are followed. It’s an important task so you really need to get their permission first before you name them in your will. Their task will be to manage your financial affairs, so the breadth and nature of the role will depend on how complex these are. Make it clear in your will that you would like your executor to manage everything, so your loved ones won’t need to worry about things like paying bills at a difficult time for them.
You need to choose someone who’s willing and able, who you can trust to carry out your instructions clearly and efficiently. While it can be tempting to ask a close friend or family member, don’t forget this will be a tough time for them so you might want to look a little further afield. You can choose more than one executor – so you have a backup in case your first choice dies before you.
2 Choosing a guardian and trustee
Of course nobody wants to think about leaving a child without parents. But again, it’s important to be realistic.
If anything were to happen to you and your partner, then by appointing a guardian you are leaving them with people you know will love and care for them. Again, this can be a very big ask so it’s vital that you speak to your proposed guardian(s) in advance and check this is a role they’d be happy to take on in the circumstances.
Caring for a child is an expensive task, so you may want to set up a trust fund to help the guardian with the financial aspects of your children’s upbringing. If this is the case, you will need to also appoint a trustee, who will administer the funds. While it might seem to make sense for the trustee and guardian to be the same person, it’s actually advisable to keep them separate to avoid any conflicts of interest.
3 Who to leave your money and property
It may be as straightforward as leaving everything to your spouse or children, or you may have more complicated affairs and wish to make a number of gifts. Your solicitor can help you make clear in your will exactly what your instructions are. The other side to this is who not to leave anything to – for some, it is important that a particular family member does not have access to their possessions after they die. Again, legal advice is key here, as relatives can make a claim on your estate and challenge your will if they are left out.
There may be other things to consider, depending on your circumstances. This is why we always recommend you seek legal advice rather than trying to sort it yourself. Your solicitor will be used to the whole process and can guide you through, keeping everything as swift and straightforward as possible.
Lester Aldridge is a nationally recognised law firm with offices in London, Bournemouth and Southampton.
The Private Client team are leaders in their field. Kurt, Paula, Harriet and Melanie are specialist private client expertswith a wealth of experience in all areas of private client work from wills to tax, trusts and probate. If you would like more information, call 01202 786294