A Will's Legal Requirements

What are a Will’s legal requirements, and can you write one yourself?  A Will is a legal document which can take many forms.  Although it is normally formally written, the courts will recognise any document which meets the criteria.  Namely this is that:

  • The document is written, preferably although not necessarily, in ink
  • The document is created at the testator’s (the writer’s) free will and sound mind
  • The document reflects the testator’s wishes
  • The document is signed and witnessed correctly

Perhaps, before understanding how Dogwood can help you achieve a Will that reflects your needs, you ensure that you understand the purpose of the Will.

Why is a Will needed in the first place and what happens if you don't have one?

The main purpose of a Will is to have peace of mind that you have put all of your affairs in order.  This includes: appointing who will manage your finances and distribute your estate on your behalf; deciding who will look after any minor children; giving out family heirlooms and other valuables to those that you choose; providing cash gifts to loved ones or charities dear to your heart; choosing to exclude particular people from any inheritance; and nominating who will take an interest in your property.  There are many other things that a Will can do if written correctly.

When a person dies without a Will, this is known as being intestate.  The courts will therefore distribute all of your estate according to a set of defined rules regardless of what you would actually like to happen.  Partners of long term relationships, where unmarried, will inherit nothing.  An estranged sibling might inherit everything.  A Will puts you in control.

Won't a DIY Will kit do the job?

Yes, making a Will yourself or using some kind of template does meet the Will’s legal requirements.  You will, most likely, have a Will that will be recognised by the courts when the time comes.  But there are risks and limitations in taking on the task yourself.

  • Claims are rising – you can generally distribute your estate as you see fit, but there are some people who can legitimately make a claim against your Will.  If you have not allowed for this then the courts are able to amend the Will that you have written.
  • Gifts can fail – you may have a desire to provide for a loved one but have used ambiguous language.  Other gifts may fail because of the way the asset is owned.  There are plenty of reasons why your nominations may fail.
  • The Will is invalid – the signing of the will must be done in a very particular manner.  If this is done incorrectly, the Will is not recognised as a legal document and becomes invalid.  This means that your entire Will is disregarded and intestacy rules will apply.
  • Inheritance Tax is 40% – a DIY Will does not generally account for the best manner to protect your estate.  Understanding the tax implications of your Will can help to minimise this cost.
  • Something is missing – you may be found to be partially intestate if your Will has not accounted for all of your estate in it’s entirety.
Will kits and templates try to be a one-size-fits-all solution.  But the problem is that everyone’s situation is unique.  The Will kits are not tailored to you and do not provide you with suitable options.  A general approach is given, but personalised advice is required.

The benefits of Dogwood Will-Writing Service

Each client at Dogwood is treated as an individual.  We take the time to understand your financial position, your family situation, and your goals and requirements to be fulfilled by your Will.  Advice is given which is tailored to your particular needs and situation.  A degree of Estate Planning is done in tandem with understanding your needs in order to minimise any tax liability.  We additionally will ensure that your estate is owned in such a manner that your Will is effective and as expected.  In addition to creating a legally robust Will, we can additionally provide a range of options such as:

  • Allow your partner to continue living in the house whilst maintaining the equity for your children
  • Create a trust to protect assets against claims from others
  • Be informed about who can make a claim and how you can mitigate against this
  • Supervised signing of the Will for legal compliance
  • Maximise tax-free allowance and make use of the available residential allowance
  • Understand the roles of Executor, Trustee and Guardian for more informed appointments
I am trained specifically in understanding a Will’s legal requirements, I am a member of and certified by the Society of Will Writers.  As such, I comply to the high standards set by the Society and you will be protected by their Guarantee.
For additional information About Us and for Why to Choose Dogwood please have a look around our website.

Please call us on 07436 566932 or e-mail info@dogwoodwills.co.uk to understand how we can help you achieve peace of mind for your Will.

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