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Do You Need a Lawyer to Write Will?
It is vital to have a plan on what will happen to your possessions when you die. You can ensure the assets go to the beneficiaries you want or fund charities and organizations that you would like to support.
To make sure all your wishes are granted, you need to write it down in a will. Without a valid will, your family will have to sort through your assets. Besides, they will have to follow the rules of intestacy when dividing your estate.
That means only your spouse or civil partner and a few relatives can benefit from your property. Therefore, if you want your estate to be distributed as per your wishes, you must make a will. Here are the legal requirements for a valid will and the circumstances under which you may need a will lawyer to complete the process.
Can You Write a Will Without a Lawyer?
Whether you should write the will yourself or seek advice from a professional depends on the complexity of your affairs. Anyone can write a will without involving a lawyer. You can draw up the document on any paper and follow any format you choose, as long as you sign it in the presence of witnesses.
However, if the document has errors or some corrections crossed out, a family member can challenge it in court, causing conflicts. Therefore, you should make a legally binding will. Here is the process for writing your will:
Estimate the Value of Your Estate
You need to write down all your assets and debts and determine their value. Your assets include any properties, including your home, bank savings, insurance policies, pensions, investments, vehicles, furniture, jewelry, antiques, and personal belongings. Your debts include your mortgage, credit card balance, loans, bank overdraft, and equity release.
Divide Your Possessions Among Your Beneficiaries
To avoid conflicts concerning your will, you should make it clear who you want to benefit from the estate. That means you should state who gets the house, how your savings will be divided, and what happens to the residue of your estate.
If you would like to give gifts like antiques and jewelry to specific individuals, you should include this in your will. You can also leave a donation to a charity or organization of your choosing. To ensure they receive the gifts, add the correct contact information.
Pick the Executors
The executors will be responsible for distributing your estate. Therefore, choose trusted people who will adhere to your wishes.
What Are the Legal Requirements to Make the Will Valid?
As earlier mentioned, a will can be challenged in court if it fails to meet the legal requirements. How do you ensure your will is valid?
- It should be in writing and have your signature.
- You must be above 18 years old and with a sound mind to understand the implications of will writing.
- The document needs to be signed by two witnesses who are also above 18 years old. The witnesses should not be beneficiaries of the will.
- The will must have been written voluntarily.
When Should You Involve a Solicitor?
While it is possible to draw up the will yourself, you might still have a lawyer check it out to ensure everything is in order. However, if your affairs are not straightforward, it’s better to leave the will writing process to a solicitor. Here are the circumstances in which you should use a lawyer:
- If you jointly own an asset with a person who is not your spouse or civil partner, you need a lawyer to ensure there are no legal battles.
- You own a business or properties outside the country.
- You are not a permanent resident in the UK.
- When several family members and relatives could claim the estate, you need a solicitor.
While hiring a lawyer will cost money, they can ensure the will achieves what you want by avoiding errors and ambiguities. Besides, a solicitor can also store the will and administer it when you die. Therefore, if you are going to prepare your will, it is advisable to involve solicitors.