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Please find information and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on writing a will below.

Writing a Will

Not surprisingly, lots of people in the UK put off writing Wills. After all, when one thinks of a will, one thinks of the unhappy fact of death, yet the sooner you plan your future the better. Accidents can unfortunately happen and even though you probably don't plan to die for a long time it is best to get your will in place.

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What Happens when I Die?

Many people assume that if they die, their estate automatically falls into the hands of their loved ones (or next of kin). Unfortunately this is not actually the case. In reality, if you do not have a will in place, it is the government which takes over your unclaimed personal estate and decides what to do with it.

Since February 2009 there are two scenarios (if you live in England or Wales) of what happens to your estate, depending on whether you have children or not:

If you have children

Your spouse or legal partner can only receive up to 250,000 from your personal possessions while the rest is divided into two one half goes directly to your children while the rest gets put into a trust from which your spouse or legal partner can draw interest payments.

If you do not have children

Your spouse or legal partner can receive up to a maximum of 450,000 and the rest is again divided into two one half given to your parents (if they are still alive) or to your siblings/their children.

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Gain Control

By writing a Will, you can remove unnecessary distress to your spouse, partner or other loved ones. You can decide what happens to your money and estate, who gets what, and you will arrange for executors who can carry out administration. This means your loved ones don't have to deal with the hassle of grant letters and frozen bank accounts.

Additionally, you can deal with less straightforward scenarios such as stepchildren; find out how to deal with inheritance tax.

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Who can be Executor?

You can choose a person (or people) you know well (such as a family member) to be your executor(s). You must have at least one executor and can have up to four.

Many people choose to have a professional executor, who can deal with the often complex nature of dealing with a person's estate after they die. Many Will-writing services offer a professional executor service, or you can nominate a local solicitor to do this for you.

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Do I Need Witnesses?

Yes. In order to make a Will fully official and legal it must be signed by someone who fits the following:

  • Is not mentioned in the Will
  • Is not a blood relative of yourself
  • Must be over 18
  • Cannot be blind

You could ask your solicitor, doctor, neighbour or a work colleague to sign your Will.

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What is Residue?

After your death, your debts must be settled. What is left of your estate after debts have been settled and the people you have named have been bestowed those items you designated, is known as the residue. The residue could be furniture or other property which hasn't been mentioned in the Will.

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How Can I Make a Will?

Because a Will is an official and legally binding document, it is wise to get professional help to write it. You can seek a local solicitor to help you, or seek an independent Will-writing service.

There are plenty of companies who offer a full professional service on the internet. They offer advice, assistance and a straightforward user-friendly way to go about writing a Will. They generally charge a set fee for making and binding your Will ad well as storage of the Will at the National Probate Office.

Depending on your situation, you might need to call on a solicitor to oversee the Will. Generally it is worth seeking independent advice to find a service which is good value and fully professional. Some banks (like Barclays) also offer a Will-writing service.

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