None of us like to think about dying, so making a will can be emotionally stressful. And under pressure, we can all make mistakes. Here are five costly errors we’d urge you to avoid:
- Naming unsuitable executors. An executor is a person you appoint to carry out the terms of your will. Executors should therefore be trustworthy, responsible and calm under pressure. The role is not just an honorary position, so please don’t put the financial futures of your loved ones at risk by appointing an unreliable executor.
- Failing to prepare for the worst, especially if you have young children. You must assume your spouse might die at the same time as you, which means you should plan for this possibility and appoint a guardian to look after your children until they reach the age of 18. You can do so through your will. If you don’t appoint a guardian, the courts will do so after you and your spouse die, but their selection might not be the person you would have chosen.
- Misunderstanding your ‘common law’ status. Regardless of how long you have been living (or ‘cohabiting’) with – but not married to – your partner, you do not have the same legal rights as a married couple. If you die, your surviving ‘common law spouse’ has no automatic right to inherit your estate (which is the entirety of your money, property and possessions at the time of your death). Don’t just assume your estate will be distributed according to your unwritten wishes. Avoid confusion and distress by detailing your desires in your will.
- Preparing a will that isn’t legally valid. Your will must be signed by you in front of two witnesses (both over 18 years of age), who must then sign the will themselves in your presence.
- Trying to do everything yourself. Walking into your local stationery shop and buying a do-it-yourself will kit might seem like a good (and cheap) idea at the time but think of the possible consequences. Without professional advice and support, you could easily make a mistake that will one day hurt your loved ones badly, both emotionally and financially. If you want to think clearly about your will in a relaxed environment, why not visit our Cheshire office for expert guidance? Or, wherever you live, you can use our virtual service here – http://www.legacydirect.co.uk/apply-today – to arrange your will from the comfort of your home.
Your biggest mistake would be failing to make a will at all. Call us today at Deborah Wilkinson & Co. and we’ll help you take the right steps, right now, to secure your family’s financial future.