All in good or­der

Cheshire Life - - Finance - WORDS: Kate Jones

Mak­ing a will en­sures you have a plan in place for those you love the most

Ac­cord­ing to research from mu­tual in­surer Royal Lon­don (re­ported in 2018), 54% of the adult pop­u­la­tion do not have a will. How­ever, Re­becca Har­bron Gray – head of wills, trusts and pro­bate at Gor­don Brown Law

Firm LLP – says peo­ple have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to their fam­i­lies and ben­e­fi­cia­ries, both fi­nan­cially and in terms of guardian­ship pro­vi­sions, to make one. ‘It’s re­ally im­por­tant, no mat­ter what age or point you are at in your life, that a will is made and it’s kept up to date,’ she notes.

Ac­cord­ing to Re­becca, un­cer­tainty is the big­gest con­se­quence of not mak­ing a will. She warns: ‘It’s a very dif­fi­cult time of any­one’s life if a rel­a­tive dies, and to not have a will, with some el­e­ment of guid­ance and some el­e­ment of struc­ture as to what you then do can give in­di­vid­u­als a lot more worry and a lot more grief.’

For­tu­nately, Re­becca says, mak­ing a will need not be long or ar­du­ous and that there are lots of dif­fer­ent ways one can be cre­ated. Dan Gar­rett, CEO and co-founder of will, pro­bate and cre­ma­tion ser­vice Farewill, agrees with that lat­ter point. He ex­plains you can use a so­lic­i­tor or will-writer (Re­becca ad­vises check­ing the in­surance of any will-writer you’re con­sid­er­ing us­ing, as they can dis­ap­pear quickly and be harder to find if they close), or a ser­vice such as Farewill, which lets peo­ple write wills on­line.

You can also write your will your­self. If it’s prop­erly signed and wit­nessed by two adult in­de­pen­dent wit­nesses, present when you sign the will, it should be legally bind­ing. How­ever, Dan says in gen­eral, Farewill would not rec­om­mend this as the risk is that you word some­thing wrong or you for­get about a bit of your es­tate.

Your will should cover who you want to ben­e­fit from it, who should care for any chil­dren un­der 18, who will sort out your es­tate and carry out your wishes af­ter your death (your ex­ecu­tor) and what hap­pens if the peo­ple you wish to ben­e­fit from your will die be­fore you.

En­sure it’s to­tally clear what should hap­pen to your whole es­tate – es­sen­tially, ev­ery­thing you own. Re­becca says that in the UK, it’s com­mon within a nu­clear fam­ily for spouses to pro­vide for each other and leave chil­dren gifts, though if fam­i­lies are more di­verse (say there are step-par­ents), will con­tent will de­pend on in­di­vid­ual cir­cum­stances.

Think about who you have fi­nan­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity for when mak­ing your will. Re­mem­ber that this might not just be your spouse and/or bi­o­log­i­cal chil­dren – if you’re a grand­par­ent or step-parent pro­vid­ing for a child fi­nan­cially (if you’re fund­ing school fees, for ex­am­ple), you might want to leave pro­vi­sion for them. You can also give money to char­ity.

Farewill is keen for in­di­vid­u­als to emo­tion­ally en­gage in the process of mak­ing a will and en­cour­ages peo­ple to leave ex­ten­sive fu­neral wishes, as well as to put notes in their will so that if they’re leav­ing some­one an heir­loom, for ex­am­ple, they’re ex­plain­ing why they’re do­ing so and what it means to them. “For most peo­ple, the stuff that mat­ters is more of the emo­tional side – mak­ing sure that they’ve said what they have to say to the peo­ple who they love,” Dan says, adding that ap­point­ing a guardian for pets is of­ten over­looked.

Death can be a dif­fi­cult sub­ject to talk about. How­ever, by mak­ing a will, you can en­sure peace of mind for those clos­est to you.

ABOVE: Re­ceiv­ing pro­fes­sional guid­ance is ad­vised

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