Welcome to our comprehensive guide on drafting a legally sound Will under English law. Preparing your Will is a fundamental aspect of planning for the future, ensuring that your wishes are respected, and your loved ones are cared for when you are no longer here. In this blog, we'll take you through the essential requirements and crucial considerations to keep in mind while making your Will.
1. Meeting the Requirements:
To ensure the validity of your Will, it must meet the specific requirements set forth in the Wills Act 1837. Let's go over these prerequisites:
a. Age Requirement: You must be 18 years old or above to create a Will.
b. Written Document: Your Will must be in wri
tten form to be legally recognised.
c. Testamentary Capacity: You must be of sound mind, fully understanding the implications of your decisions without any undue influence or pressure from others.
d. Witnesses: Two witnesses, aged 18 or older, must be present when you sign your Will. Similarly, they must sign the same document in your presence. While remote witnessing may be possible, it's best to carefully consider the circumstances.
2. Making Changes to Your Will:
Should you need to make minor alterations to your Will, a "Codicil" allows for convenient and appropriate updates without affecting the entire structure of the document.
3. Important Points to Consider:
In drafting your Will, keep these key points at the forefront of your planning:
a. Executors: Choose at least two individuals you trust to act as executors, responsible for administering your estate and ensuring your wishes are carried out.
b. Guardianship: If you have children under 18, consider appointing guardians who will lovingly care for them if the unexpected occurs.
c. Specific Gifts: You have the liberty to allocate specific gifts to individuals or charitable organisations.
d. Letter of Wishes: Supplement your Will with a thoughtful "Letter of Wishes" addressed to your executors. In it, you can provide guidance on matters such as the upbringing of your children or the reasons behind certain distributions.
e. Seek Financial Advice: Given the importance of Inheritance Tax (IHT) considerations, consult with your financial advisor or accountant to understand how your current financial situation affects your planning.
f. Regular Reviews: We recommend reviewing your Will every three years or when significant life changes happen. By doing so, you can ensure your Will accurately reflects your wishes and circumstances.
4. Legal Implications of Marriage or Divorce:
Be mindful that your existing Will is automatically revoked upon marriage or entering a civil partnership. Similarly, divorce renders your Will null and void.
Creating a Will is a powerful and responsible way to protect your legacy and secure your loved ones' future. By adhering to the requirements under English law and considering important factors such as guardianship and specific gifts, you can find peace of mind in knowing your affairs are well-organised. If you need assistance in drafting your Will or reviewing an existing one, don't hesitate to contact Trent Law at your nearest office branch. Our dedicated team is here to guide you through the process and ensure your legacy is in safe hands.