Most of us, without good reason, never think about drawing up a will.
Some of the most common reasons for this are:
These beliefs are all misconceptions when it comes to making a will.
When you decide the time is right to make a will, you should not forget any pets you have in your care. They deserve to live on at the same comfort level that you have provided for them. There are certain things that you cannot do when including your pet in your will, such as leaving money to your pet and leaving property to your pet.
You can make a provision in your will where you leave your pet with a trustworthy person who has already agreed to the responsibility. Money can be left to this person in your will to pay for any expenses. You do not have to make a legal arrangement if the arrangement can be made by word of mouth.
If you cannot find an individual to care for your pet, there are organisations that take care of pets when their owners have died. If you need this option, it is a good idea to do some research first to find a willing organisation. What you should take into account, however, is that if you leave money to the potential carer of your pet, then that person is not legally obliged to use the money for that purpose.
If you want to be more certain of your pet’s future and you think it is worth the extra cost, then you can set up a pet trust which is legally binding. In a pet trust document, which you draw up with a lawyer, you can do any or all of the following:
What brings complications and bitterness is when an estate that has some value and has to be distributed is left without a will. Family members may start to squabble if they think they have been unfairly treated. Conflicts in normally harmonious families suddenly start to rear their ugly heads. Relationships may even disintegrate completely, never to be rekindled. Families may become suspicious of the person who, by default, has to take responsibility for clearing the silver out of a deceased relative’s house as well as selling the property.
Once relationships have become so strained, it is difficult to return to normal. Those regular extended family get-togethers come to an end, phone calls stop, birthday presents and Christmas gifts cease and so on, all because a family member failed to make a will.
Just give this situation a bit of thought and you may realise that making a will may not be such a bad idea after all.
An estate is everything you own whether it is in the form of money or investments or your home and its contents. Your car and your bank account are included in your estate. A gold ring on your finger is part of your estate, as is your mobile phone and iPad. When you die, your will determines who inherits everything you own. To avoid putting stress on your family, you have to be specific about who will inherit even the smallest and least expensive item.
You must remember that debts are not dismissed when you die.
A simple estate plan is a way of sorting out your property. It can include a will, a trust, a living will, and a power of attorney.
A living will actually has nothing to do with asset distribution, but it is a legal document that defines what medical care you should be provided with when you are nearing the end of your life. It is usually termed an "advance healthcare directive" and is only used before your death. It helps your family decide what to do when you are going to die soon and you no longer have the ability to speak for yourself, and it is based on the type of health care you have requested. The following information may be included in a living will:
If you become incapacitated in some way, your medical professional will listen to you first until you are no longer intelligible. A healthcare power of attorney nominated by you will then step in to mediate on your behalf. This is a person you have chosen to make medical decisions for you when you are no longer able to. The person’s name is included on a legal document. A healthcare directive, which is legally binding and decided by you, includes the following information:
There are also situations where you may become too incapacitated to handle your finances. For example, you may develop dementia or you may have a serious accident that causes you to lose your ability to make sensible decisions, particularly about your finances. This is where a financial power of attorney can step in and take control of your money on your behalf. Appointing a financial power of attorney ensures that your bills get paid and any dependent family members are looked after.
A trust is an arrangement that you make legally with a third party to safeguard your assets on your behalf. The person appointed by you to take on this responsibility is called the trustee. It ensures that when you die, the beneficiaries of your estate can ignore probate and gain access to your assets far more quickly than in the absence of a trust.
There are two types of trusts: revocable or irrevocable. A revocable living trust is more flexible and allows you to make changes whenever you choose. An irrevocable living trust cannot be changed once it has been formed but offers more tax advantages.
A trust normally holds both your property and other assets while you act as the trustee throughout your life, and then an appointed beneficiary takes control.
No. There is no law that exists in the UK that forces you to make a will.
You can pay almost nothing by doing most of the paperwork yourself, or you can pay a lawyer to guide you through the process.
There is more to making a will than extensive wealth ownership, as most people do have possessions. Even if it is just a car, a decision has to be made as to whom will inherit it.
If you have not made a will and you die, the state will play a role in deciding who is entitled to inherit your estate, which may not be who you would prefer.
A next of kin will make decisions on your behalf, but it could cause unnecessary squabbling.
Yes, but only by you and through the use of a codicil, which is a legal document.
No. You can choose your own beneficiaries.
No, it does not have to be a relative, but it should be someone you can trust to do the job well. You can name your own lawyer if you wish.
They can, but it is a lengthy and costly legal process.
You may, if you wish, consult with your intended beneficiaries before finalising your last will and testament. This may help to avert conflicts.
Some wills are not just about money or property. The following rather unusual requests were made by a number of famous people over the years to prove just that:
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