Every single adult should have a Will in place, but most do not. If you are reading this, you may have given some thought to writing a Will, but not sure how to get started. You have seen different approaches to writing a Will, but you are not sure which services offer a quality, affordable Will writing service, without questionable extras. Hopefully this overview will help you take the next step.
Why you need a Will.
A Will allows you to describe the distribution of your estate. It puts somebody in charge of the process, and it allows you to do things like name a guardian for your children, make charitable bequests and set up trusts.
If you die without a Will, the courts take over. Your family and loved ones will have to work their way through a court process that will eventually do the work of your Will, but probably not the way you would have wanted.
The courts will put somebody in charge of the process. Hopefully this is somebody with the administrative skills needed, and a person who has a good rapport with your family and your beneficiaries. They are going to have to work with the people you have left behind to distribute everything you own according to a legal formula. In the meantime your assets will be frozen.
Then your assets will likely be liquidated and divided according to the laws of “intestate succession”. If you are married without children, then it is possible that your intended distribution plan would match the intestate succession plan. But in almost every other case, your assets will be divided in a very strange way.
What does a Mirror Will mean?
A Mirror Will is actually two Wills, usually created by spouses or partners, that names each other as the main beneficiary, with each Will having a backup plan in case both partners are involved in a common accident. It is one of the most common approaches for couples when preparing their Last Will and Testament.
A Mirror Will is very different to a joint Will which is one document that serves the needs of two people. Joint Wills used to be popular many years ago, primarily as a time saving tool. It saved the Will writer having to type out two very similar Wills, when only the main beneficiary was different.
Joint Wills were also popular in a time when the patriarch of the family was considered to own the assets, and a wife was thought to not have an equal claim over the estate.
However, in modern times joint Wills are rarely used. Attitudes towards asset ownership, and the efficiency of Will writing software means that there is absolutely no advantage in preparing a joint Will. But there are many disadvantages.
The main disadvantage of a joint Will is that it creates confusion when one partner writes a new document revoking previous Wills, and it becomes unclear whether both parties are bound by the terms in the old joint document. In general, joint Wills should be avoided.
What are the different types of Wills?
There are a few other variations on the joint Will or Mirror Will. A Mutual Will is a pair of Wills that a made after a legal agreement is put in place to dispose of combined assets in a certain way. What makes a Mutual Will unique is that neither can be revoked (or cancelled) without agreement from both partners. There are many resources online that describe a Mutual Will as the same as a Joint Will. This is incorrect. Mutual Wills are extremely unusual, and are rarely the best option. Typically one person makes a standard Will, and then contractually ties the second person into an irrevocable Will. It’s a legal challenge waiting to happen!
The term “Reciprocal Will” can also be used in place of either a mutual Will or a Mirror Will. A Reciprocal Will simply means that the two documents have been written to benefit each other. Continue reading
Six Common Estate Planning Mistakes
Estate planning is a critical part of financial planning, but a task that often never quite makes it to the top of your To Do list. Having your final wishes clearly set out can relieve your loved ones of unnecessary stress and financial burdens. To help you along your estate planning journey we have listed 6 common mistakes that anyone can make when writing a Will.
Mistake #1: Assuming that Wills are only for the wealthy
According to a recent YouGov survey, nearly two thirds of the British adult population do not have a Will. Continue reading
Will writing options
Before the advent of online Will writing services there were two general approaches to writing a Will. Going to a solicitor, or writing your own Will on a piece of paper. These two approaches were diametrically opposite. A solicitor would be able to provide you with legal advice, and potentially write custom clauses in your Will, but the service would cost you several hundreds of pounds.
The option of going to a solicitor was not available to everybody either because of a lack of time, or an unwillingness to pay high fees to what was perceived to be a simple instruction. So many people attempted to write their own Will starting with a blank sheet of paper, and in general terms explain how they would want their estate to be distributed. The common belief was that writing at least something on a piece of paper, was better than dying without a Will.
In the mid to late 1990’s a number of blank form kits started entering the market. Available from shops like WHSmith the kits provided some structure to writing a Will, and at least guided the user through making some key appointments, and included the formalities of revoking previous Wills, and signing the new document.
You may have come to the conclusion that writing your Will with a solicitor is too expensive. You have thought that maybe you could write your own Will. But when you google the topic, “writing your own Will” leads you to all kinds of conflicting information. Eventually, you find information about the holographic Will, and have become totally confused.
Please allow us to help.
Background to the misinformation
The main source of confusion is of course the Internet. The problem is that laws pertaining to holographic Wills vary quite dramatically from one country to another. If you post to a law forum, to Quora or to Reddit, the whole World will want to chip in with an answer. The problem is that an answer coming from Canada, or the US, or from India, will not apply to UK law.
Here’s a great example. A question posted on uk.answers.yahoo
Hand-written Will. Is it Legal? Continue reading