Writing a last will and testament

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding settling your assets

It’s all too easy for will-writing to fall down the to-do list. For one thing, nobody likes to dwell on morbid subjects like death. We want to assume we have all the time in the world to get our affairs in order, but the truth is circumstances can change at any time, and we need to be prepared in order to make sure our loved ones are cared for.

Will writing can also feel like a daunting task, which is why we’ve answered some of the most common and pressing questions on the subject below.

If I die without making a will, what happens to my estate?

Dying without making a will is called dying intestate. In this instance, fixed legal rules are applied to determine who is entitled to your estate. In these rules, your spouse will be entitled to everything if you are married. If you don’t have a living spouse but have children, your assets will be split evenly between all children, regardless of any informal wishes you may have made.

Do I need a will if I have a long-term partner but we’re not married?

In short: yes. If you’re not married, your partner will not be automatically entitled to any of your assets. Instead, your estate will be divided between your children or, if you don’t have children, between other, more distant relatives.

What is an executor?

An executor is an individual who ensures your wishes are followed through in the event of your death. You can name as many as you like in your will, though the maximum number who can apply for probate to administer your estate is four. It’s common to ask friends and family to be executors, and it makes sense to choose trustworthy individuals who are good at administration.

An executor is responsible for a variety of tasks, including paying inheritance tax, arranging your funeral, paying off any outstanding debts and, more.

Can I change my will later if I change my mind?

Minor changes can be made to your will by adding a codicil – a separate document that must be signed and witnessed and kept with your will. This could involve leaving a specific object to a friend.

For bigger changes, you’ll probably need to draw up a new will. For example, if one of the original beneficiaries dies.

Will my will become invalid if I get divorced?

While your will remains valid, any provision in favour of your former spouse will cease to apply once your divorce is finalised. It is, however, best to draw up a new will should your family circumstances change substantially.

Can I provide for my pets in my will?

While you cannot leave any assets directly to the animal, you can leave assets to whoever would be taking care of your pets in the event of your death. This could either be through a lump sum or through a trust.

Where should I keep my will?

Be sure to keep your will somewhere safe, ideally off your premises. A bank or solicitor is the ideal choice.

Is there will writing support available?

A solicitor can help you create a will that meets your needs and ensures your loved ones are cared for, in line with your wishes.

Head of Wills, Probate, and Trusts at Winn Solicitors, Rebecca Harbron Gray, explains the importance of a will that’s written with clarity in mind, saying:

“Many people avoid writing a will and making plans for death for many years because they think it is a morbid or depressing process. But the truth is often that, once complete, people get a sense of comfort and relief from knowing that they have done all they can to protect and care for their nearest and dearest.

“At Winn Solicitors, our team has decades of experience in this specialist field of law and we know how to make it simple and stress-free – no matter how complex your estate or family situation.”

With a dedicated team of legal specialists in settling affairs, Winn Solicitors can help you create a will that offers complete peace of mind and security for your family, no matter what the future holds.

If you’re looking for expert solicitors for wills, get in touch with Winn Solicitors today.