How to Make a Cast-Iron Will
Writing a cast-iron will is not just for your own sake, but for that of your loved ones. A well-composed and watertight will can provide a lifeline to grieving families who have no idea where to begin in the weeks that follow your absence, while the process of challenging a will in order to feel financially secure can be an incredibly lengthy and tumultuous time – particularly if misunderstandings or misinterpretations have led to rifts within an otherwise close family unit.
So, whether you have already put your own will together and, for the most part, forgotten about it, or have yet to begin, here are the most important criteria behind a cast-iron will.
Don’t Underestimate the Formalities
While Hollywood protagonists might get away with hastily copying down a muddled list of their final wishes, the real world is a little different, and for a will to be considered legally valid it must meet a long list of criteria. If not, it is highly likely that it could be declared invalid.
From following proper witnessing procedures to ensuring that the testator (person making the will) is ‘of sound mind’, no one can afford to overlook these formalities.
DIY wills may seem like a cheap and cheerful option (and in many cases can work perfectly well), but they may lead to problems after your death if they are not made, signed and witnessed correctly. From using the wrong coloured pen to choosing an inappropriate witness, a mistake at this stage could render your document invalid.
In almost all but the most basic and simple cases, the most sensible option is to instruct a professional and not leave anything to chance.
Make Your Intentions Crystal Clear
If, for whatever reason, you do not wish to include a certain a close relative in your will, then there is a chance that they could contest it and, in some circumstances, win – unless, of course, you make your wishes abundantly clear.
When you instruct an experienced legal professional to prepare your will, they will make sure that your wishes are set out clearly, and that your will is made in a legally valid way. This reduces the risk of anyone you haven’t included in your will making a claim on part of your estate after your death. In certain scenarios, a lawyer can even include a specific clause that excludes someone specifically from your will.
The take-home message though is to seek professional assistance, as your will is one of the most important legal documents you will prepare in your lifetime, and it is important that it is done correctly.
Understand the Scope of Your Assets
When creating a will, many people overlook the sheer scale and scope of their assets. You don’t need to be extremely wealthy to have a large array of assets. For example, digital banking accounts, personal sentimental items and even your Facebook account are classed as part of your estate and can be included in your will.
Understanding the full scale of your belongings, in whatever shape or form, is key to creating a comprehensive will which reflects your wishes after death.
Don’t Hide it
No one wants to be reminded of this document everyday but, at the same time, a lost will can make life incredibly difficult for your loved ones. Even if you spent a great deal of time writing it, its absence can make an already tough time more taxing. If you use a professional solicitor or lawyer to prepare your will, the chances are they will store a copy, or a copy can be accessed via a will search database.
To keep things as simple as possible, it’s best to establish where your will can be found, and leave your loved ones with clear instructions on how to find it after you pass away.
Work with a Solicitor
Inheritance law is highly complex, and almost everything hinges on your loved ones’ ability to reference a sound, valid, clear and comprehensive will after your death. From the formalities to updating, storing, and offering support as you work through your wishes, an experienced solicitor or lawyer with specialist knowledge will prove indispensable.