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Signing a Will

At LegalWills.co.uk we have removed the obstacles to writing a Last Will and Testament.  It is convenient, low cost, and simple.  The MyWill™ service steps you through a series of questions in a "wizard" format.  All questions are written in plain language, so you don't have to be a legal expert to create your own Will.  You simply answer the questions, complete the details, and we automatically and instantly format a document that forms the basis of a legal Will, custom-made for your local jurisdiction.

"I used your service to write a Will for my dear wife Christine who passed away this year. The Will was easy to fill out and very straightforward. I never had one problem arise because of the Will." --- Keith Sutton   Read more testimonials

Below is more information about your Will, including instructions explaining how to sign your Will and make into a legal document in United Kingdom, as well as information regarding how and when you should update your Will.

 

Structure Of The Will

The Will has the following structure:

  • It identifies the person making the Will (you), otherwise known as the "testator".
  • It revokes (cancels) all previous Wills, to make it clear that this Will replaces any earlier Wills you may have made.
  • It names the personal representative, called the "executor", for your Will.  This is the person who will be responsible for distributing your estate (property) according to the wishes outlined in your Will.
  • It leaves all of your property to your executor in trust. The executor, as the trustee of the estate, is given ownership of all of the property in your estate after you die, but must distribute the property according to the instructions in your Will.
  • It instructs the executor to pay all valid debts, expenses, claims and taxes on your estate.
  • It tells the executor to give your beneficiaries whatever is left in the estate after the debts, expenses, claims and taxes have been paid.
  • It gives the executor certain legal and financial powers to manage your estate, including power to keep or sell property in the estate, to invest cash, and to borrow money.
  • It names one or more people who should take custody of any minor children.

 

Printing The Will

The easiest way to print your Will is to click on the "Download and Print your Will" link located on the main menu of the MyWill™ service and save the PDF file on your local hard drive.  If you have Adobe Reader installed on your system (free download available from here), you can then open this PDF file and print it.

 

Signing The Will

In order to make the Will a legal document, you should first print it and read it thoroughly. Make sure that it accurately reflects your wishes and that you understand everything that is contained in the document. Once you are happy that it reflects your wishes, you must sign your Will in the presence of at least two witnesses, and the two witnesses must also sign the Will, in the presence of the "testator" (yourself) and in the presence of each other. You and the witnesses should also initial each page, so that it is not possible to alter any pages after the Will has been signed. A witness cannot be a beneficiary of the Will, they cannot be the spouse of a beneficiary (at the time of signing), they should not be a minor (technically they can be, but it is best avoided), and, like the "testator" (you), they must be of sound mind.

For the signing procedure, gather the witnesses together in a room. You should make a formal statement that you have gathered them to witness the signing of your Will. They do not have to read the Will or know its contents. They are only required to witness your signature.

You should initial each page in turn, in the designated bottom corner of each page, and then sign your name in full on the last page, in full view of the witnesses. Each witness then in turn initials each page, in the designated bottom corner of each page, and signs the last page. Everybody must stay present until all of the signing is complete.

There should only be one original of the Will for everyone to sign. Copies can be created by photocopy. It is therefore a good idea to sign the original in blue ink, so that it is easily distinguishable from the photocopies. Do not sign the photocopies, as this will create duplicate originals which can be difficult to administer.

 

After The Will Is Signed

After the Will is signed you must keep the original and all copies in a safe place, and let your executor know where the original is stored, along with the "affidavit of execution" if you have one. This can be done through the MyMessages™ service if you want to ensure that your executor or particular family members remember where your Will is located, or if you are reluctant to disclose the location of your Will prior to your death.  The MyFuneral™ service also allows you to document the location of your Will.

Although the unsigned version of your Will stored online at LegalWills.co.uk is not a legal document, if you wish you can allow one or more of your designated "Keyholders®" to have access to the Will that you have created here at LegalWills.co.uk

 

Assigning Keyholders®

You should use the MyKeyholders™ service to assign one or more personal "Keyholders®" to your MyWill™ service.  A "Keyholder®" is someone that you decide to trust with the power to unlock your wishes when the time is right.  Each Keyholder® is assigned a private, secure, randomly-generated "Keyholder® ID" which they will use to login and access your wishes when it is eventually required.

You can designate up to 20 different Keyholders® and you can even specify, for each Keyholder®, what specific information they can unlock.  In particular, you should give at least one of your Keyholders® the power to unlock and access your Will after you have passed away.  In addition to close friends or family members, it is a good idea to ensure that your executor is a Keyholder® for your MyWill™ service. This could be particularly important if your legally signed copy cannot be located (for example, if it burned in a house fire). In this situation, your LegalWills.co.uk Will can still provide some guidance to a loving family, as they can understand how you wanted your property to be distributed.

With a valid Keyholder® ID, your Keyholder® can access information such as your Will, health care directives or funeral wishes from anywhere in the world after you have passed away or become mentally incompetent.  Security mechanisms to prevent unauthorized premature access to your wishes are also available and are fully configurable by you.  These are described in more detail in the help text associated with the MyKeyholders™ service.

You must also let your designated Keyholders® know that you are asking them to take on the important responsibility of unlocking your Will when the time is right.  At the very least, they need to know their Keyholder® ID and the web address of this web site.  You can choose to do this yourself.  However, to make this very easy for you, we recommend that you let us notify your Keyholder® for you.  There are 2 options:

  1. We can send them an email, customizable by you, which contains all of the information they need to know.  This is a free service.
  2. We can send them a custom-made wallet card by postal mail which contains all of their important information.  There is a small charge for this service, but it has the advantage of providing a permanent physical record which can be kept by your Keyholder® with their own important documents for easy retrieval.  This option is also handy if your Keyholder® doesn't have a known email address or if you have decided to share a single Keyholder® ID with more than one person.

More information on creating and notifying your Keyholders® can be found in the MyKeyholders™ service.

 

Updating Your Will

Your Will comes into effect only after your death and is strictly confidential until that time. Throughout your life, you are free to update your Will as often as you like, either by making an amendment, or by drafting a new Will. An amendment to an existing will is called a "codicil" and must follow the same form and structure of a full Will (i.e. it must be properly signed and witnessed). Consequently, writing a codicil is not usually much of a shortcut. In fact, it can lead to significant confusion. 

It is strongly recommended that if you wish to make changes to your Will, that you create a new Will and revoke and destroy all previous Wills. Each time you modify your existing Will stored here at LegalWills.co.uk, the MyWill™ service does just that --- it produces a new Will that revokes all of your previous Wills. Never, ever, make handwritten amendments to your printed Will.

Not updating a Will can be as bad as not having a Will at all.  Even if you feel that there have not been many changes in your life, your Will should be reviewed every year on a routine basis.

Beyond the routine reviews of your Will, you should consider updating your Will in the following circumstances:

  • If somebody named in your Will dies
  • If a major asset is purchased or sold
  • If you remarry, separate, divorce or cohabit
  • If you move to a new country
  • If your executor or alternate executor no longer wish to serve
  • If any new children are born, adopted, or pass away
  • If any person named in your Will becomes seriously ill
  • If your children reach the age of majority
  • If you wish to change some beneficiaries
  • If you wish to redistribute your property in a different way

 

After You Die

After you die and your Will has been located, your executor will have to obtain an official document (a "grant of probate") from the Probate Registry to show that they are the ones with the legal authority to deal with the property. This document is also sometimes called "the grant" or simply "the probate". Your Will operates from the moment you die, so that an executor need not necessarily wait until all of the bureaucratic processes are complete before any action can be taken.

The basic steps for the executor will be:

  • Locate the Will, and check that they are in fact the executor
  • Gather the assets and calculate the value of the estate
  • Calculate the total amount of debt owed by the estate
  • Prepare a formal account of assets and debts for HM Revenue and Customs
  • Calculate any Inheritance Tax due from the estate and pay this sum to HM Revenue and Customs
  • Probate the Will and receive the Grant of Probate
  • Use copies of the Grant to release assets from any institutions
  • Pay any debts and outstanding income taxes and capital gains taxes
  • Distribute the estate to the beneficiaries including the residue
  • Finalise the accounts

There is plenty of official literature available to your executor to describe the process they need to follow after your death. If your executor is also a "Keyholder®" for your MyWill™ service, then they will also have access to specific step-by-step instructions which are made available to them at this web site when they login to retrieve your Will.

 

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