Understanding The Elements of a Will
When making a will, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of the different elements and legal terms which go together to make a will legally valid.
A will refers to a legal document in which an individual, otherwise known as a Testator, expresses his or her wishes regarding how they want their assets to be distributed when they die. Assets just means everything you own which will need to be redistributed when you die. It could mean money and land and houses, but also your smaller items of property such as books, jewellery and even photos and diaries.
Usually, the subject names one or more individuals as the Executor of the will. The executor refers to the person (or persons) who are responsible for ensuring the testator’s wishes are carried out after their death. It’ll be up to the individual you’ve appointed to follow your instructions to the letter.
The will should have a record of every detail regarding how you want your property to be shared among your beneficiaries. Beneficiaries are simply those people who will benefit from your will in some way or other. You can name whomever you wish to be your beneficiaries. Most people pass their assets to their spouse, children and other close family, but some people choose others including charities and organisations to benefit from their will.
Why Write a Will
Most people – two thirds of people in the UK in fact – don’t have a will. Perhaps they consider it complicated to arrange, or they don’t feel they have assets worth enough to make a will necessary. More often than not, people put off writing a will because they worry about the costs involved. All of those fears are in fact unfounded.
Writing a will – no matter how small or large your assets are – is one of the most important jobs you will do in your lifetime. Think of how much peace of mind it would give you to know that your loved ones will be well taken care of after your death and that your assets will be going to those whom you know will appreciate them and understand how loved it meant they were by you.
Creating a will has become far easier with the advent of technology and the use of online will writing services. You can now create legal documents promptly and easily, and without any of the expense that used to be involved in paying a solicitor to write your will for you.
Are Online Wills Legal?
Absolutely. It is perfectly legal to take advantage of the many services that help you create a will online. Such websites provide an online will maker who can guide the user to a tailored, finished product, by asking questions and presenting the various options available. The answers to these questions are keyed into a template and enable the will writer to ensure your will is written in the legal way and with your wishes at its heart. Some websites provide forms and step-by-step guidelines so that you can fill out your will on your own, without input from anyone else. Others offer a DIY template which can be downloaded to your computer.
Are Such Wills Different from the Conventional Ones?
Only in the sense of how they have been made. An online will has the same content and legal weight as a will written in a solicitor’s office with you present. This is as long as the will you’ve created complies with the law and is signed and witnessed in the correct way.
Breaking Down the Process of Creating A Will Online
- Step 1
Create and write the introduction to your will. You should begin with the sentence “This is the Last Will and Testament of….”, followed by your full name as well as the address you’re currently using. You also need to testify that you’re of age and are of sound mind. It’s crucial to state that you’re not making the will under any duress. At the end of the first step, you should state that it’s your last will and that it revokes any will that was previously made. If you’re using software, the program will generate the introductory section for you.
- Step 2
As earlier discussed, you will need an Executor. This person will oversee the implementation of your will. It could be a close friend or a trusted family member. Meet this individual and discuss their willingness to be responsible for execution when you die however, before naming them. Then, if they agree, name them as such in your will. It’s important to select an alternate executor too, in case your first choice is unwilling and unable to perform their duties when the time comes.
- Step 3
In this step, you should identify your Beneficiaries. This could be your spouse, children, or life partner. You can make additional provisions for other individuals. Ensure you identify these people clearly with their full names so that there is no confusion regarding their identities. The names of the beneficiaries must appear on your online portal.
- Step 4
In this step, you should name a guardian for your minor children, if you have any. If you have young children who still need guardianship, choose someone who you feel will be able to take good care of all the children’s needs and is close in terms of beliefs, philosophy and attitude to yourself. Discuss the responsibility of the role with those you wish to nominate before naming them.
- Step 5
Even though you’re creating your will online, you need to have all the details ready thought-out and prepared. As such, you should assess the value of your property and divide it. List all your assets including bank accounts, stocks, tangible assets, bonds, and real estate. Then decide how you wish to split them amongst your beneficiaries. For instance, you can allocate 50 percent to your spouse and 25 percent each to your children. Or you may also make individual gifts of different properties to be allocated to your beneficiaries. The choice is entirely yours but again, it is advisable to discuss your decisions with your beneficiaries if you think any of your decisions may cause confusion or distress after your death.
- Step 6
Have your will witnessed. This is very important or your will won’t be legally valid and could be challenged or nullified after your death. The online will service will have a signing portal. You will be required to have at least two witnesses sign the will, and witness each other sign it. Usually, they should not be the beneficiaries of the will.
In summary, online will making is a great idea for individuals whose properties are below the estate tax limits. It is also great for individuals who have a straightforward estate. If you have an estate that could be subject to large amounts of tax however, or complicated family arrangements, you should consult a lawyer. Otherwise, take advantage of the online will services that are available and give yourself peace of mind knowing that this important task is taken care of.