Making a Will - 10 Common Misconceptions

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Over 50s Personal Finance and Funeral Planning experts uncovers the 10 popular misconceptions of writing a will.

Making a WIll

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With the launch of Free Will Month, the annual event which raises awareness of the importance of writing a Will and promotes the opportunity of leaving a gift for a favourite charity, Over50choices reveals their 10 Will writing misconceptions aimed at dispelling common myths and confusion surrounding the legal process of making a Will.

Recent figures suggest almost 60% of UK adults do not have a Will in place which includes 1 in 3 over 55s who are seemingly happy to leave the division of their estate in the hands of the law rather than being certain that their wishes are adhered to and subsequently that their families are protected.

To help promote the importance of having a legally valid Will in place and the associated risks, the guide highlights 10 Will Writing Misconceptions, focusing on some of the key pitfalls that have led to families throughout the UK losing out on an often much needed inheritance.

The 10 Will Writing Misconceptions:

1.    The closest family member decides how assets are divided

Without a Will, the deceased’s estate is divided according to the law of Intestacy; a set of statutory rules that decide who inherits what. These rules are fairly antiquated and do not take into account the more complex lives people lead these days so could result in the inheritance being shared amongst more distant family members.

2.    A Will is unnecessary for married couples
A surviving spouse does not automatically inherit everything. Particular rules may dictate that part of the estate will be left to children with the spouse receiving:

  •     Personal possessions
  •     The first £250,000 of the estate
  •     A life interest in the remaining estate

3.    A long term partner can inherit everything
A common law spouse has no automatic rights regardless of the number of years they have lived with the deceased. Quite simply the law does not recognise ‘common law’ relationships.

4.    A Will does not change through marriage
A marriage will invalidate any previously written Will unless a specific clause is added to the Will called an ‘in contemplation of marriage’ which acknowledges that the previous provision still stands.

5.    A family member can be written out of a Will
Although strictly speaking a person can decide who will and won’t inherit from their Will, a family member who would naturally expect to receive an inheritance can under the Inheritance (Provision for families and Dependants) Act challenge the Will if they believe they should have received something.

6.    An Executor of a Will cannot be a Beneficiary
An Executor of a Will who is the person nominated to sort out the finances in accordance with the deceased’s wishes can also be a beneficiary. It is the person who witnesses the Will that cannot benefit from the estate.

7.    All debts die with the deceased
Outstanding debts need to be paid so the estate cannot be distributed according to the Will until they have been settled. If there are insufficient funds in the estate, the debtors will take what they can and the remaining debt will be written off.

8.    All outstanding contracts end
If a contract has been agreed prior to death, it still stands and has to be followed through by the Executor.

9.    To be legal, a Will has to be written by a solicitor
A Will can be made through a Solicitor, using online legal services like those provided by Over50choices or via a DIY template. It is therefore not a requirement to use a solicitor but it may be advisable to have a solicitor or qualified specialist check the contents to ensure the Will is legally valid.

10.    The solicitor making a Will has to carry out probate
Solicitors who write the Will frequently offer to hold it for free for safekeeping in the hope that they will automatically be first in line when it comes to probate, the name given to the process of sorting out the deceased’s affairs. There is no requirement for the same solicitor to carry out probate so the family or Executor of the Will can choose how they want to proceed when the time comes.

In addition to providing comprehensive information about Wills and Probate, funeral planning experts Over50choices also offer free Wills to customers who buy a Prepaid Funeral Plan through their comparison website. To find out more, go to http://www.Over50choices.co.uk.

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Ashley Shepherd
@Over50Choices
since: 04/2011
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