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Writing a will: what I have learnt

By Nina Steele 

I hear that some people put off writing a will because they see it as tempting fate. Funny how this never even crossed my mind when we started the process of having ours written. It is a process that can feel daunting at first.

For example I wasn’t aware that we could use the solicitor firm writing the will as the executors as well and spent months trying to figure out who the executors would be. If you are planning on using relatives as executors, they must be young enough to hopefully still be around by the time of your death and you have to make sure that they understand the work involved.

You yourself must do your homework in terms of understanding what writing a will entails, for example that witnesses cannot also be beneficiaries etc. At the end, it was pure relief to have the solicitor firm act as our executors. At least we can rest in the peace of knowing that as professionals, they have all the knowledge and expertise needed for our wishes to be carried out.

Writing a will is recommended for anyone with assets. In addition to the tempting fate argument, many people put off writing one because they assume that they will live to old age. I just happened to be enjoying a lovely afternoon in our garden when it suddenly hit me: what if we both die in a car crash tomorrow, how will our assets be divided?

Thankfully, working for an old people’s charity, will writing is something that my colleagues in the advice and information department deal with on a regular basis and so I sought their advice and was given some brochures to read along with the names of some of the solicitor firms they have worked with for many years. I ended up choosing one of those firms and we made an appointment to discuss the details of the will.

The first thing is to decide who you wish your assets to go to and list them all. They are your beneficiaries. At the meeting, the solicitor goes through all the details with you and then if all the parties are satisfied then the process of writing the will begins.

Until the will is finalised, you can make a few amendments here and there. You have to think carefully because once the will is written, making amendments, which is known as a codicil may incur a cost. In truth, most people will revise their will at some point, since circumstances do change and so codicils are almost inevitable. Two staff members from the same firm acted as our witnesses and so at the end, we didn’t have to involve any friends or relatives.

The day we went to sign the wills felt like a real achievement. I was relieved that should something happen to us, some of the people and institutions we care about will be left something. Finally, for a will to be valid, it has to follow some legal requirements, which is why using a solicitor is so important.

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