Preparing to write your will? Here are three common mistakes and how to avoid them
Making the decision to set aside the time to write your will is very wise.
Not only does it make certain that your loved ones will be able to inherit what they need and deserve after you die, but it also liberates you from the worries and ‘unknowns’ that are par for the course when you haven’t put plans in place.
Dealing with the death of a loved one is hard enough without the financial stress and turmoil of picking up the pieces without a valid will to work from, and having to turn to will dispute solicitors for help navigating a potentially long and nerve-wracking legal procedure. Unfortunately, however, plenty of people who do take the time to make a will still leave their family with these difficulties, since even (seemingly) minor mistakes can undo all that work they put in.
For that reason, we have compiled a few of the most common mistakes testators make in their wills – and why they can unravel the entire document. As you can imagine, these mistakes are far more commonly associated with DIY will writing packs. When working with an experienced solicitor, these mistakes are easily avoided.
In a will, one person is usually identified as its ‘executor’, which simply means that they have been designated as the person responsible for dealing with the deceased’s estate and carrying out your wishes after you have passed away.
This person can be anyone – a family member, or a close friend – but they need to be specifically named and identified within the will. If not, an executor is decided by the probate court, and someone who may not have chosen to be the executor of your will may be named instead.
Anyone who is named as a beneficiary of your will – a child, spouse or partner, or anyone else who stands to inherit – is automatically ruled-out as a potential witness.
As with most legal documents, your witness needs to be a UK citizen over the age of eighteen, but what a lot of people fail to realise is that anyone you choose as a witness to your will could be disinherited if they are named as a beneficiary.
Wills have to meet very rigid standards in order to be considered valid and reliable.
Wills must have been made in writing, and signed by the testator. It also must have been made intentionally, and any suggestion of coercion or forgery will make it incredibly complex after the testator’s death. Also, if there is evidence that the testator did not have the testamentary capacity to state their wishes at the time of writing, then there’s a chance it may be considered invalid.
The testator’s signature must be witnessed by two people (who are, as mentioned above, not beneficiaries of the testator’s estate). They can observe the testator signing the will, or be informed by the testator that the signature already made is their own.
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