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Are free wills really as good as people claim they are?

LilyKing

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Even with the level of importance placed on writing a will, a lot of people still don’t get around to writing one before their death. Many people leave their estate planning until there is an emergency. In some cases, when people think they need a will urgently, they resort to writing a free will. Free will services can come from service providers who specialise in selling will writing templates or from charities who render will drafting services, usually to people above age 55.

How do free will services work?

A free will or a DIY will is usually created online by the person writing the will themselves. Depending on the type of free will service used, you might have to answer certain questions. Those answers are then used to automatically generate the will for you. You may also have to fill in forms online. The information on the forms can then be printed out after they have been completely filled. Sometimes, a person might have to download software that guides them through the process of writing the will.

Generally if you have an estate that has a level of value that is subject to estate taxes or you have minor children  , it is not advisable for you to write a free will. To answer the question of how good free wills are, we would have to consider the pros and cons of writing a free will.

Pros of using a free will service

  • Free wills are pretty easy and fast to write, that is if you can comprehend some of the legal jargon used. They are time-saving, all you have to do is fill out a couple of forms online and answer some questions and you have your will written and a copy at hand in a couple of minutes. This is opposed to having to wait for weeks if you have hired the services of a professional solicitor.
  • They are money saving too. This is the most popular reason people resort to writing a free will. I mean, who doesn’t want to save a couple of bucks? Typically, solicitors rarely come cheap and can charge as much as £500 to write a will. Writing a free will is certainly cheaper than having to hire a solicitor. The only cost you may accrue is if you notarise the will.
  • For some people, privacy is a very big deal when writing a will. If you are one who worries about your personal information, such as how much your estate is worth and how you intend your wealth to be distributed, getting into the wrong hands, then writing a free will might be one way to assuage your worries.

Cons of using a free will service

  • Free wills are generally beneficial to people with a relatively small estate. This means that if your estate is valued as a large one, a free will might become complicated. Free wills do not make provisions for certain types of estate so it might pose a challenge if the will is unable to cover and distribute certain parts of your estate.
  • Although they are usually free and cost far less than having to hire a solicitor, they might be a recipe for someone having to spend a whole lot of money further down the line if the will is contested or ends up at the probate court.
  • There are instances where a free will is completely struck down due to errors made by the drafter. There are legal terms used in the process of writing that might not be easily understood by a layman thereby leading to errors being made. In a case like this, the deceased is ruled to have died intestate.
  • Sometimes, a free will is incorrectly witnessed or signed. Depending on jurisdiction, there are different laws that guide the execution of a will. Some state how many witnesses should be present when the will is signed and how it should be signed. Some free wills don’t take this into consideration and they can become invalid as a result.

While a free will can be easy and inexpensive to get, it may not be the best option for you or your loved ones. It is always best to have professional advice when writing any legal document. As has been highlighted, it may eventually cost you more than you would have spent getting a solicitor to help.

Hi. I am Muhammad Mubeen. I am SEO Expat and Wordpress Websites Developer &  Blogger. 27 years old. I help entrepreneurs become go-to in their industry. And, I like helping the next one in line. You can follow my journey on my blog, All Note AbleB2B Guru PlanCross ArticleDj Soft WorldFinance PressHufforbesLife Health Press BusinessStrong ArticleThe Top StoriesUS Update ZoneBusiness TodayScience NewsEssay Writing AcademicElite Guide Health If you need any post so you can email me on my this Email: [email protected]  

Legal

Will Storage Do’s and Don’ts To Ensure You’re Not Turning In Your Grave

LilyKing

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Storing your will is as important as having your will written. There is very little point in writing and planning a will if you don’t plan how you will store and keep it safe.

Your will is a written legal document which bears instructions entailing your wishes on the disposal of your funds and assets after your death. It is therefore extremely important that when writing your will, you give thought to your solicitor or executor’s accessibility to the will after your death. If for any reason, your will becomes accidentally damaged, lost or becomes otherwise inaccessible to your executor, then it is as bad as not having written a will in the first place.

A lot of people question whether their will can be stored at home. The simple answer is yes, you can store your will at home as long as it is stored in a safe spot. However, if your will storage spot or safe requires a password or key for access, it’s best advised that you share such details with a trusted person such as your spouse, your grown children or of course, your solicitor.

Regardless, there are certain do’s and don’ts to consider when considering how to store your will. Here are some of the things to be on the lookout for when making plans for your will storage:
Don’ts of will storage
● Do not store your will in a bank deposit vault
Yes, some banks in the UK offer a will storage service and most people feel it is the safest place to store their will. However, it is not advisable to store your will in a bank. When you die, your bank safety vaults are not accessible to anyone until it is confirmed who the executor of the will is and they have been given probate permission from the court.

Probate permission cannot be granted without documented confirmation of who the will executor is, as named in the will. Hence, a copy of the will is needed before any access can be granted and you are stuck in a Catch 22 situation. It is best to ensure that your will can be accessed even without the consent or permission of the probate court.
● Do not keep your will in a permanently inaccessible home safe
There’s really no point storing your will in a secret or locked spot that cannot be freely accessed by anyone else but you. You want to feel reassured that your executors can gain easy access to your will after your passing. Always therefore ensure they one or two persons are knowledgeable about how to gain access to your home safe if this is where you plan to store your will.
● Do not attach other documents to your will.
Using staples, paperclips, perforators or anything else to attach other documents to your will can raise some serious issues. Questions as to whether a part of the will is missing or whether maybe an amendment has been made can be raised which can create difficulties for the executor. A witness may then be needed to attest to whether the provided will document is the authentic one.
Do’s of will storage.
While there isn’t a particular spot or location mandated by law to store your will, here are some of the options you should consider:

● Involve a solicitor
If you involve a solicitor in writing your will, they will usually offer to take care of the original copy of the will free of charge for you, while an extra copy is given to you for personal safekeeping. However, if you haven’t involved a solicitor in writing your will for you, they can still provide you a will storage service but probably not without a fee. The option of storing your will with a solicitor is a safe option as they have a full comprehension of the strict legal principles involved with storing a will, and will take the obligation very seriously.
● Engage a will writing service and let them store it for you
If you allow a will writing service to write your will for you, they will most often take on the responsibility of storing it for you but at an extra charge. More often than not, a will writing service is less expensive than paying for the services of a solicitor but ensure the will writing service provider confirm the full expenses of their storage options before committing, as you don’t want to be hit by any hidden charges further down the line. Also, be sure to ask what happens to your will if it gets damaged or if the company goes out of business before your death. Most importantly, always ask to keep an additional copy for yourself.

● Involve the Probate Service:
If you live in England and Wales, you are perfectly entitled to store your will with the probate service. They provide a service to store your will for you once you officially lodge it with them. The probate service stores wills for safekeeping at the Principal Probate Registry in London. The whole process is relatively easy and excellently secure.

However, it is important to understand that this service is not free. There is a flat rate charge of £20. It also has to be mentioned that the tricky part of storing your will with the probate service is the fact that only you can make official requests to take back your will. It is extremely difficult for your solicitor or executor to claim your will for your after your demise.

In all of these options, it is clear and important to note that however and wherever you may decide to store your will, ensure that your executor, solicitor or trusted members of your family know where you have stored your will and have full access to it. An inaccessible will is the same as having not written a will at all. It is very important therefore to ensure your will is safe, accessible and properly stored.

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You can actually make your will online – here’s how

LilyKing

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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.

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5 things you need to know before writing your will

LilyKing

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In simple terms, we can define a will as a legal document that states how your estate will be managed after your death. It can include properties and valuable assets that you own, but can equally include something as small as a book or piece of jewellery to which you attach important sentimental value.

 

The person who writes a will is called a ‘testator’. Anyone who benefits from it is known as a ‘beneficiary’, while the appointed person who manages everything on your behalf after your death is known as an ‘executor’.

 

There are many different factors that you need to consider before writing a will and this article comprehensively discusses five of the most important.

Should I hire a lawyer?

There is no law stating that you are required to take the services of a professional lawyer to conduct your will writing activities. There are many sources available on the internet that provide a basic guideline and template on how to write your will. While there are different formats and a person can in essence write anything that they want in a will, proper attention must be paid to following the strict set of guidelines that exist to help in ensuring that your will meets the standards set out by law. If you do not, it may not be valid, or may be challenged, after your death.

 

If you take the other route and hire a legal representative to deal with your will preparation, this can be helpful in many ways. A qualified lawyer can give useful insight on how to manage your business finances, come up with planning for your living trusts and make sure that the will has fulfilled all the legal requirements. Having an experienced hand also bodes well for future as there will be someone officially appointed to implement all that you have stated as your last wishes.

Name a guardian for minor children

If you have children who are under 18 years of age then your will should name a guardian for them. In some cases when one parent dies and the other is not fit to fulfil the duties, or in instances where both the parents have passed away, this becomes imperative.  The extended family or courts will need to look at your will before deciding who will be in charge of your children. If there is no information about this then the court is free to decide to the best of its abilities who is the best fit to be a guardian. To avoid such a situation think of the first and second choice of person who you would like to take on this role in the event of your death.

 

Keep different factors in mind before reaching a decision such as your relationship with the person, their desire to be guardians, how similar or dissimilar your parenting styles and lifestyles are, if they are fit to be a guardian character-wise and how your children would feel growing up with that person. If it’s possible, do talk with the people you have in mind before reaching a final decision.

List all your assets

Mostly people consider assets to be things that have large value in terms of money. Usually joint accounts and beneficiary accounts are already decided as they are passed to the partner and beneficiaries respectively and aren’t considered part of a will. But if you own a property or a bank account that’s just in your name then it’s important to declare them so that they are passed to the other persons if that’s what you want.

 

Similarly if you want to sell them or create a trust, all of that is decided when you list your possessions. The significant assets can also include a car, land you own or a house that you built. Sentimental value items also are equally important and you must decide who to pass them onto. They can include jewellery, photographs, books and even your certificates or medals. Consider what you cherish the most and think about whether there is someone specific in your family or circle of friends who should have them and appreciate them.

Decide your beneficiaries

A beneficiary is anyone who will benefit from your will. In most cases it is your immediate family such as son, daughter or spouse. If you are married and have no children then your assets are passed on to your spouse automatically, but other cases are different. You might want to pass them onto your children instead of spouse so consider all situations. In some cases people pass on assets to extended family members in their will too because of an emotional attachment.

 

Similarly, people can pass on their money and property to a charity they have worked for or consider an important cause. It is important to be clear about who you want to have what. Wills that are incomplete or vague lead to family disputes after you are gone. You can also write a letter of ‘instruction’ to list the future owner of each item you have although this document does not have any legal value.

Appoint an Executor

An executor is the person who will take responsibility for seeing that all the wishes you make in your will are fulfilled. Choosing an executor is perhaps the most important decision you have to make. Make sure it is someone you trust fully to carry out your instructions. Most people appoint someone who is part of the will or a beneficiary as they will want to make sure everything is settled because of their stake in it.

 

Appointing someone who does not have any interest can be a bad decision but there are exceptions. Sometimes you do not have a trustworthy person or are cautious that it may result in conflicts among the family members. In this case employing the services of a legal professional is an excellent choice as it will give you and your family members the satisfaction that everything will be arranged as per your wishes. There is of course a cost factor involved with this course of action, which is usually paid from your estate, so make sure you know all the pros and cons.

 

In a nutshell, keep in mind that every situation is different and the circumstances related to you and your family can change at anytime. But keeping these five points in mind will help you focus on the most important aspects of will making.

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