So...What Is A Basic Will?

Now…this is right the question to ask a Will writer!


It is actually a piece of paper with some words on it…so really the question should be what can a Will do for me? Put simply a Will is a written record of what you want to happen with your ‘stuff’ when you die. ‘Stuff' includes buildings, property, cars, money…everything you own.


There are some basic requirements and steps you can take to ensure that your Will does exactly what you need it to do after you have died. So, let’s start with the key elements; there are 3 things to make your Will legal.

  • Executors - these are the people who you choose to carry out your wishes. They need to be people you trust, and they need to know you well enough to get the gist of what you are trying to achieve. These people will do the job because they cared for you during life and its worth considering more than one person as it comes at a really bad time in someone’s life so they may not want to carry out this task alone. For this reason, people are often tempted to use a solicitor or professional executor. This will cost money, often a lot. A client recently paid £6,000 to a solicitor to deal with her husband’s estate which was more than he had in his bank account!
  • Residue - the decision section of your Will. Who gets what and in what proportion? Shared equally, half to one and the other half shared between 3….it really is your choice, but it needs to be very clearly explained. This section deals with the bulk of what you own. For most families it will usually pass to the surviving spouse and then to the children, but it is so important that you get this in writing with clear instructions.
  • Attestation - a posh word for signing! In England and Wales, you need 2 people (nobody mentioned in the Will) to watch while you sign and then to say they watched! Neighbours are usually a sensible option, unless you are gifting Jim next door your favourite set of golf clubs. Realistically they need to people who will be around after you have died in case anyone questions your intentions. They are signing to confirm that you happily signed your Will, that it was what you wanted and that you understood its contents. In Scotland you only need one person to act as a witness.


What else can be included in your Will?

  • Gifts - of money, jewellery, or other belongings of value or even sentiment. For example, Shakespeare left his second favourite bed to his wife.
  • Funeral directions - recently a client requested for everyone to drink a pint of Guinness at his funeral, whilst another lady wanted it known that she wished to be buried wearing an animal print frock.
  • Pets - they are as important as children to some people so what happens to them after your passing needs to be written down.


Sounds very easy, doesn’t it?

If only! Have you ever written a shopping list or given directions to a meeting point or left a list of directions for someone to follow…only to have to go back a clarify the information? This is the problem with a Will. You won’t be there to clarify what you meant at the point your family need you to.

As for the steps you can put in place, it’s true you can write your own Will, but this leaves you with no one to speak for your intentions and if anything is wrong there is no-one to explain what you meant. The best step you can take is to instruct someone who can do it all for you and then be around to help your family with the clarification of what you wanted.

The Willwriting Partnership will take care of the whole process from start to finish. Find your local consultant here and let us take the pressure off.

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