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Writing a Will – What you need to know

planning for the future with loved ones - writing a will

Thinking about estate planning and writing a Will? It’s the absolute minimum that everyone should put in place to help make sure the wrong people or government don’t receive the assets that have already been taxed during a person’s life!

Yet it’s estimated that nearly 60% of the UK adult population haven’t made a Will.

Generally speaking, all adults (over the age of 18) can make a Will. As long as you’re deemed to be competent at the time. So what are you waiting for?

Did you know that in 2016 when Prince died he had no Will in place, his estate is still unsettled to this date and remains with state administrators who are deciding who will inherit his millions fortune.

So how do you write one easily, and how do you make sense of all that technical jargon?

We’re here to help.

Things have moved with the ever-evolving technology. You no longer have to go to your family high street solicitor and get them to prepare and advise on writing a Will.

Now you can easily create one using online personal and professional services, making them more accessible and cost-effective.

Where to start writing a Will

At its very basic level, a Will is a set of instructions of how a person wants their estate to be distributed after they’ve gone.

A Will enables you to make sure that your loved ones know that you have considered what their needs are after your death.

So, what do you need to consider when writing a Will?

Before you start writing yours you should consider:

  • What your assets are i.e. savings, investments, properties
  • Your beneficiaries, who you want to benefit by your Will
  • Naming any guardians if you have young children
  • The division of your estate
  • Inheritance tax

These are all things you’ll need to have an idea of as they will come up as you’re writing a Will. So having a good idea before you start can make the process easier.  

To start with, you will want to determine who is going to administer your Will. Is it your wife, husband, girlfriend, son, daughter? Alternatively, do you wish for a professional Executor to act for you to remove the worry for your loved ones at this very emotionally stressful period for them?

How does Will writing work?

As we said, generally speaking, all adults can make a Will. That’s someone who has reached the statutory age of maturity of 18 years. As long as they are deemed to be competent at the time, they can write a Will.

This will be the first thing that advisers assisting in writing your Will will do. They will ensure you understand what a Will is and what it does, that you know what makes up your estate and that you understand in writing your Will you’re disposing of them.

There will usually be several parties involved in a Will besides yourself. Within the documentation or talking to an adviser, they will refer to them and use terms such as:  

Testator/Testatrix: The person who is preparing the Will and whose estate it is.

Executor: Someone who is appointed in a Will to administer the estate of the Testator.

Trustees: The person(s) that you the Testator wishes to act in the Trusts of the Will for example there may be an age of attainment which means the appointed Trustees will need to keep hold of the beneficiary’s share until they have reached this age.

Guardians: You can appoint a guardian for any underage children in your Will so your children have someone to care for them should anything happen.

Beneficiaries: Those people that you the Testator/Testatrix has nominated to receive certain gifts, and/or, part of the Residuary Estate.

Witnesses: These are 2 people over the age of 18, who watch the Testator sign the Will document. Once they have seen the Testator sign the document, they will then in turn sign their signature to say they have seen the Testator sign at his own free will. Witnesses must be independent; they cannot be named within the Will as inheriting.

There will also be many technical terms/jargon in completing your Will that you may come up against. To break some of the common terms down:

Lifetime Interest: A type of interest in residential property where the beneficiary will receive a lifetime right to live within the property, together with an interest in any income it generates.

Nil-rate Band: An allowance that every Testator has before inheritance Tax becomes payable on their estate (currently £325,000).

Residential Nil-Rate Band: An allowance that every Testator who owns a share of residential property is entitled to, as long as they gift their share of the property to a direct descendent as an absolute gift.

Issue: A legal term that simply means the direct descendants of the subject it’s referring to (i.e. the Testator or beneficiary).

Discretionary: In the context of writing a Will and Trust it usually refers to the choice of the Trustee or Executor as to what they will do with the estate/trust fund/trust assets.

Grant of Representation: An umbrella term for either a Grant of Probate or Letter of Administration.

Grant of Probate: A document from the Probate registry which shows who has the legal authority to administer a Testators estate (where there is a Will).

Trust: Where assets are given to someone to keep hold of, subject to duties, for the benefit of another person.

There’s a lot to think about when writing a Will and so many different options to choose when you’re writing one.

Will writing and estate planning doesn’t have to be difficult though. You can get started from the comfort of home with a click of a button via our estate planning.

Once you’ve chosen your package you’ll be guided step by step via a ‘to-do’ list of information to complete in order to create your legal documents. You’ll also have support where you need it, it will be tailored to you as an individual based on your needs, and you’ll be able to review your documents and make amendments before completing them.

Once set up, you can rest easy knowing that you have ensured that your hard-earned life’s work will go to the people you choose.

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