Writing a will can be complicated and time consuming. That said, unless something very weird happens, dividing up your property after your death is something you'll probably only have the chance to do once. That means it's worth getting it right. There are a few basic steps to follow to make your will.
Obviously enough, you'll need to know what you're leaving behind you in order to divide it all up. Your list should include things like any properties you own, any savings and investments you have, your household contents and any other valuables. Remember that any unpaid debts you've run up will count against the value of your estate, so factor in things like loans, outstanding credit card balances and overdrafts. Usually, this sort of overall valuation is something you'll want to get done professionally.
- Decide where it's all going
Depending on your circumstances, this might be the easiest or hardest part of the job. In addition to family members and other typical beneficiaries, now's the time to make up your mind about leaving something to charities or other organisations. Remember that there may be funeral bills to pay as well, along with the various administration fees and tax.
This is less sinister than it sounds. An executor is simply someone who'll deal with all the admin of making sure your estate actually gets to the people you want it to. It can be a big job, so make sure you choose someone who can handle it and doesn't mind the work.
You've got a few options as to how you go about this. Talking to a lawyer's usually a smart decision, as long as they're properly registered with a recognised authority like the Law Society. Some banks and charities have services to help put your will together, too. Where are even specialist will writers, although you should check that they're members of the Institute of Professional Willwriters before going with them. As a last resort, you could have a crack at writing your will yourself—but we'll go over why that might not be such a brilliant idea a bit further down.