Most people recognise the wisdom of making a will, however, a large percentage of young adults do not see it as an imperative task but it is something that all of us need to consider at some point in our lives. A millennial reading this might be thinking "writing a will? That's not important for me now, I'll do it when it actually matters". However, it might actually matter right now in light of the coronavirus pandemic. It is rarely wrong to have contingencies in place, whether you are 25 or 65, especially in light of the fact that many young adults have expanded families and take on responsibilities such as in the step-children and may also have elderly relatives dependent on them. The question of disposing of foreign assets is also important to consider. The unprecedented coronavirus crisis experienced over the past year has led many to people ponder how their family would cope if they were suddenly unable to care for them.
Here are some considerations you will need to address when composing your will:
Valuation of your estate: This is made up of the assets you own such as savings, pensions, property, insurance policies, investments, vehicles and jewellery amongst many others. If you have assets in another country, you are best advised to seek expert advice relating to the laws and legal formalities of that country. Giambrone's cross-border lawyers have extensive experience dealing with clients' foreign assets and inheritance.
How you wish to divide your estate: who will be the benefactors included in your will and in what proportions, where you want your assets to go and what you want to happen if benefactors die before you?
Your minor children and elderly dependents: you can indicate who should be your child or children's' guardians as well as who should take on the responsibility for an infirm elderly relative. However, make sure you discuss these responsibilities with the chosen person or persons.
Choose executors: who will be responsible for the distribution your estate. It's a big responsibility with a lot of work involved so you will be well advised you choose wisely and discuss the responsibility with your designated executors.
Write your will: this can be a daunting task, but Giambrone's expert lawyers can assist you every step of the way.
Witness and Sign your will: you must sign with two independent witnesses to validate it. Since the arrival of coronavirus and the lockdown situation, the 183-year-old Wills Act 1837 has been recognised as being unsuitable for its purpose in today's exceptionally different world. Urgent changes to the law allowing a will to be witnessed via electronic means such as video link. Furthermore, the amendments to the Electronic Communications Act 2000 have been backdated retrospectively to January 2020 when the first coronavirus infections were noted, in acknowledgement of the changes that the coronavirus pandemic has created.
There are distinct benefits that making a will can bring.
- It gives your family peace of mind and limits, to some degree, the stress for the remaining family when dealing with your estate.
- Children's guardianship is the most important factor for most people. Being able to appoint a legal guardian of your choice to guide your children to adulthood can be a vital factor.
- Witnessing your will via video conferencing, for those people with foreign assets, this will mean that your desired witnesses do not need to be physically present any more. You can appoint a person who lives in the country in which your assets are situated.
However, in order for a will to be valid, there are certain criteria that must be seen to be adhered to:
- The person making the will (the testator) must be over the age of majority (18).
- The will must be drafted voluntarily without coercion by a third party.
- The testator must be of sound mind and be capable of drafting a will and know what they are doing.
- The will must be drafted in writing.
- Two witnesses to the signing of the will must over the age of 18 and who are not permitted to be beneficiaries and neither can their spouses.
- The testator must sign the will to give effect to the will.
Please click here for more information and advice on drafting a will
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.