Most people attribute the act of writing a will to old age and times of retirement, however there is no reason why you have to wait that long to start considering these things. Ensuring your belongings and anything of value go to the people you’d want them to go to in the unfortunate event of your death is a worthwhile endeavour. So, when is it a good time to write a will? And what does the process entail? First, it’s important to look at what a will really is.
What is a will?
A will is not merely a scrap of paper in which you’ve dictated who will get what once you die. It’s a much more serious, legal document that must be signed and witnessed to ensure the integrity of the document and prevent any fraudulent alterations or forgeries. Your will shall state a number of things such as who will get particular items and assets that make up your entire estate, known as beneficiaries, who will carry out the duties of distributing these items and enacting your will once you’ve passed on, known as the executors, and even things like assigning guardians to any of your children that are under 18.
Once you turn 18
Of course, the easiest answer to all of this is to create your first will once you become an adult. Especially as a young parent, it would be incredibly wise to make sure anything you have will be left to your children if you desire, as well as choosing the right person to take care of your child once you’re gone. If you did pass away without a will however, the rule of intestacy will be enacted, which basically will allow a solicitor to distribute your estate among close family members which includes your children, parents, and siblings. If you do not have any close family members that are still alive however, a will is even more valuable as your close friends and unmarried partner won’t be entitled to any of your belongings after you die, and instead the rules of intestacy will dictate that your entire estate go to the Crown.
If you’ve inherited money
A good time to set out your will is if you’ve in fact inherited a significant amount of money too. Inheritance can drastically change your life in a matter of moments and being left with a lot of money or property can be an overwhelming time. However, if something were to them happen to you, it’s worthwhile deciding on who will get those assets in turn. Choosing beneficiaries is an important decision and you might find that it’s no easy choice. You might have friends that are closer to you than your blood relatives, and therefore you might want them to be beneficiaries too. Or you might have close family members you don’t get along with and want to avoid giving them anything. Whatever the reasons for your choices, make sure to consider your options carefully as, while you can make amendments, the process is just as long as creating a will, and you also don’t know if you’ll even get the chance to change it before you die.
If your asset calue has increased significantly
As you progress through life, you may find that your career has really taken off or certain investments have bolstered your income greatly. As you gain more money, and in turn grow your assets, you may want to seriously think about creating a will. You’ll probably want your hard-earned profits to go to the right people, and especially not get lost to the Crown. Speak to an expert legal team such as those at Elm Legal Services if you’re unsure about this entire process and they’ll be able to guide you through every step, including the creation of your and any future amendments. You can even create your will online with guidance via video conferencing.
If there are changes in your marital status
Another reason you may want to either change your will or create a brand new one, is after a change in your relationship. If you’ve gotten married, or even divorced, you might want to take a look at your will. As per the rules of intestacy, your entire estate will go to your spouse if you don’t have any children. If there are some people that are not close relatives that you wish to be beneficiaries though, you’ll want to state this officially otherwise there’s no guarantee that they’ll get anything. As well as this, if you’ve decided that you and your partner don’t wish to get married, you should create a will and add them to it if you wish for them to be a beneficiary as they won’t be entitled to anything under intestacy rules by just being in a relationship with you.
As your children grow older
It’s important to think about your children as they get older, identifying which of them would benefit the most from your estate. You may find that you want them to get everything equally. However, if one of them wants to travel the world and potentially live abroad, they won’t benefit from owning property as much as one that wants to live in the country. If you allow your estate to be divided among them, you might actually be causing them more hassle. There is nothing stopping you from discussing this with them either, but remember that whenever wealth is involved, it can influence certain people to become greedy and confrontational. This is why many people keep their will a secret until they’ve passed away to avoid souring relationships.
At the start of a new venture
When starting a new business, you might want to strongly consider creating that will as your finances will be heavily converted into other assets, making the executor’s task of dividing your estate very confusing and difficult. Splitting up a business’ assets among many beneficiaries could result in that business being unable to restart. This would only happen if the business was a sole proprietorship, as once a business owner dies, the company will be terminated and all of the assets of that company become part of the owner’s estate. Of course, if your business is not a sole proprietary, and is instead a corporation, your estate may actually end up being in control of that business once you die, meaning that your executors might not only have to sort out the division of your wealth and properties, but may also be responsible for managing your business.
When you purchase new property
One thing that people inherit all the time is property. If you have numerous people that may inherit from you such as a spouse and children, yet you don’t have a will in place, the division of your estate can get messy, especially when property in involved. For fairness, the property may be split evenly among all inheritors instead of going to one particular child or your spouse. If you’ve purchased a new property, it’s worth creating your will, or revisiting your current will and amending it to decide what will happen to that home when you die. You might be more than happy for it to be split evenly, or you might think that it’s best for just one person to take on the entire property in lieu of receiving money, which the others may get. At the end of the day, this is your will, so you can make whichever choices you want.