As I approach forty years of age I do not have a will. This is something I am perhaps going to rectify in the next two weeks. As Einstein said 'It's all relative' and we tend to only consider what we will leave behind when we die, when there is a 'someone' that we are leaving behind. Even if there is, we may not consider them to be someone enough to arrange a Last Will and Testament.

Those familiar with Greek history will doubtless confirm that wills date back to a law making Athenian named Solon. Though regal Aires have almost certainly inherited all of their Father's indebtedness and accrued palaces and money and responsibilities and seen these passed down for thousands of years automatically. Whether you're a King, Queen or live in a fancy London apartment, all things have worth and wills prevent wars within a family of benefactors.

No matter whether you are old or young, single, have two ex wives, or are currently married with three Children, two Grand Children and a Great Grand Child on the way. Every person residing in England and Wales and the United Kingdom in general can benefit their beneficiaries with a Last Will and Testament. A document that enables your passing to avoid the clutches of the state legal system and allow you to direct your own affairs with a designated solicitor or reliable friend aka the named Executor of the Estate.

[Did You Know : Will is English and Testament French. When the Kingdom involved both languages, the two terms had to be used together to avoid confusion and that they actually mean the same thing.]

How does a will & testament work;
and what can I pass on once I'm gone?

The British legal system or indeed the law in any country, is not the fastest working piece of the puzzle when it comes to matters of death and adjudicating who should receive what amounts, which properties and rights to a business. If you do own a business, are married, have an insurance policy, mortgage, loan or own a property outright, savings or belongings that have any worth either financially or emotionally, then considering getting a will written up would be very beneficial.

Why have a will made? Because it makes life a lot easier for those you leave behind. Who might those people be? This will be a main topic of the will writing. The people you include. Take for instance the following;

  • Your Children - it's not just a case of how much money should they receive or if a trust fund should be set up, but if under 18, who do you wish to look after them? Who should become these children's legal guardians? While law states the Mother will automatically inherit the right, for Fathers this is only a right obtained in some instances.
  • Partners - Are you Married? Divorced or Separated? Are there clauses should anything change in a relationship before you are able to amend a will. Also consider that at the time of writing, unmarried couples are not currently entitled to anything from your estate if handled via Intestacy rules.
  • Business Partners - This is one legal relationship that can completely fall apart if there are no suggestions of who should own what after your passing. If you have staff, if there are bills to pay, if you are the one to authorise all of these payments, the business could die with you. Any payments that your family were expecting month to month could disappear overnight.
  • The Best Friend - Dogs and Cats comfort us through our life but especially so in later years. What will happen to the Golden Retriever? Ensure you are confident the person will take on such a large responsibility or be sure that you wish to leave your entire inheritance to Oscar the Cat instead of your twelve Children and Grandchildren.

What Are The Most Important Factors In A Will?

A will is for everything that needs to be said and organised that couldn't be dealt with or spoken while you were alive. It's a voice beyond that allows for an Executor of the Estate to see out all the duties contained within. The ability to have instruction commanded over everything you bequeath. Whether that be a tool box and a Singer sewing machine, an International Business, a Mom and Pop shop in your local village or a two bed house in London's suburbia.

By far the most important aspect of drawing up a Last Will and Testament is ensuring it is legal. While you may be able to get free and easy wills as part of house or car insurance policy, be sure to get it checked by a standing solicitor for efficacy and to ensure it is legally sound.

The three most important factors are the naming of the Executor of the Estate. The Executor of the Will, will be the person who will receive the Will proper. Who will phone up to cancel all the Electricity, Gas and Water accounts, close bank accounts, notify all of your passing and ensure no debts remain and that all business is dealt with. This doesn't need to be the will writer, or the solicitor and you need not pay any further monies towards this aim. A family member such as Wife, Husband or Child can be provided this position.

How To Make A Will, DIY, Solicitor Or Free?

While appointing an Executor is the first important aspect of making a will, the biggest task will be distributing your accumulated wealth and understanding your family's wishes. While this is your will, it is nice to understand that your brother loved the paintings dearly and that your daughter will gladly look after Charlie the Golden Retriever.

The clever decision to force a home sale and ensure cash sums from the sale of an house rather than leaving it to all four children to deal with, was a much better idea than leaving a sole child the entire house to live in. This of course is your own will and testament, making a will is not easy and decisions on these and more topics of discontent will have to be made. It's not your responsibility to make everyone happy if it is not your intention to do so and in any case, this may not be plausible.

Neither can you force any one party, family member or friend to take on responsibility or accept any cash award. For which instance you should draw up a plan for refused items or for when a person disclaims a bequest. A Residuary Clause will need to be written in to ensure any particulars are dealt with in a satisfactory manner.

What Happens If I Die And Don't Have A Will?

The law of the land will deal with your estate under intestacy rules. The law will determine which family members get which property or asset. No unmarried partners can contest and divorcees may have rights. ​

Who do you wish to create a will with? In all cases they should be legally recorded whether they are free or come with the house insurance policy but where will you get the best advice when writing a will? Reputable will making solicitors should be your first port of call.

They may have charges per hour or a one off session to answer all your questions. Such as; What's the best way to distribute my wealth and avoid inheritance tax? Will my children avoid capital gains tax? Is it best to transfer property into their names before I die? (In my case that would have been a yes but I didn't accept, which caused a whole heap of hassle.)​

A free will making service online at point of source before getting it signed off may be ideal, but do ask yourself if you are receiving the correct guidance. This is an important document which may affect many people at a very emotional and stressful time.​

Anything you can account for, such as advance funeral planning due to Equity Release or making best use of a solicitor's time to ensure your Wife, Husband or children are treated correctly will go a long way to making your passing no more of an ordeal that it will already be. While DIY wills online are a way of making a cheaper will, you will not have the advice at hand that solicitor might be able to provide.​

Writing a will is easy. Deciding who should be a benefactor is most of the time too. Dividing assets may take more thought. Where children are concerned you perhaps should speak to parties before requesting they consider Guardianship in the event of your death. Pets can be awarded to family members but always good to keep a charity or home in mind should they decline. No matter your age, if you have an asset, children, a relationship or business, writing a will is always a wise thing to have prepared in advance.​

Will & Testament Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How Do I Account For Debts In A Will?

Once I Create A Will, Where Do I Keep A Will?