Writing a Will (Executors, Guardians, Your Estate)

Why write a Will
If you are thinking about writing a Will and why you should have a Will in place, there are certain important things that you need to consider.

You need to be aware that if you do not have a valid Will when you die that you have no control over what happens to your home, money, possessions, children or pets !

This could make a difficult emotional time for your loved ones even tougher if these issues have not been dealt with before you die.

By writing a Will, you can decide:

What happens to your property, money and possessions
Who shall look after your children, if you have any
Who should take care of your pets, if you have any
Who should receive any special items you may want to give
Who shall deal with the administration of your estate
Who would manage any money, e.g. for minor children
These decisions can all be made by you when you write a Will and can give you the piece of mind that you have taken control of those important decisions.

To help you prepare for making a Will, please see below some of the important decisions you need to make for your Will.

Executors - it is important to understand the role of the executor and who this can be, as it is necessary to consider how you can minimise the disruption to those people you leave behind when you die and who you decide should look after and administer your estate when you have died is a key decision to make.

There is a requirement to name a minimum of one Executor in your Will, but it is advisable to include two or more, up to the maximum of four.

You are also able to appoint substitute Executors, this would be appropriate if your preferred choices were unable or even unwilling to act.

Guardian - if you have children under the age of 18, then you are most likely to want to make sure they are still looked after should you die whilst they are still dependant on you.

This is an important reason to prepare a professional Will, as the Will enables you to choose those people you would wish to care for your children and act as Guardians for them, if you were not here to look after them yourself.

A Guardian is a person nominated in your Will to look after the physical and emotional wellbeing of your children, which would include the children's upbringing, education, day-to-day care.

Your Estate - this is the term that is often used to refer to the collection of the things that you own and with a proper Will, you can have the confidence that you have left clear instructions as to how you wish for your property, money and possession to be dealt with when you have died.

It is worth working out how much your estate is worth to be able to assist when writing a Will and you can do this by making a list with valuations of all your property, money and possessions as well as any debts you may have.

Beneficiaries - these are the people that you can choose to inherit from your estate, it can be individuals such as your spouse, partner, children, other family members or friends. You can also leave gifts to organisations such as charities.

You can decide what your beneficiaries receive, it could be a specific item or a money gift or it could be that you simply ensure that your estate passes to those people you would wish to benefit from you.

Pets - you can also nominate who takes care of any pets that you may have, as well as provide instructions as to what should happen to your pets and include a gift of money to assist with the care of your pets.

Wills are important legal documents and a badly written or incorrectly worded Will can sometimes create more problems than not having one at all. The regular review of your Will is recommended, particularly after certain significant life events e.g. a marriage, birth of a child or purchase of a new house and it is also advisable to use professional help for this.

If you die without a Will, then the people who stand to receive your property, money and possessions are determined by what are known as the Rules of Intestacy (see page), so you have no control over who may inherit your estate. These rules were mainly established back in 1925 and despite recent changes in legislation, the current families and living arrangements that people may have today are still not completely provided for.

As an example, these rules do not make any provisions for unmarried partners, step-children, friends, pets and charities and the outcome could be that your property, money and possessions are inherited by people you may not have chosen in your Will.

Writing your Will is your opportunity to be clear about your instructions and make sure that those loved ones you leave behind are provided for as you would wish. It is your unique document so take the time to ensure that you seek the appropriate professional assistance to have a Will that is fit for your wishes and needs.

Whether you already have a Will in place, or you are thinking of having one prepared for the first time, it is recommended that you obtain trusted professional advice to be confident that your Will reflects your current situation and is accurate.