Making a will

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Making a will is one of the most important things we can do - after all it determines how our most personal possessions and hard-earned savings will be shared among close family and friends.

It is often a simple and inexpensive process. But failure to make a will can pose major difficulties for those left behind, for instance, by paying more tax than necessary. Your estate - money, other assets and possessions - could be distributed according to the law rather than your wishes. It is particularly important to leave instructions if you own property.

Some solicitors offer a free service in return for a donation to charity, for instance, those participating in www.willaid.org.uk during November and www.willreliefscotland.co.uk, which provides a similar service every September.

The contents of a will

It is advisable to consult a solicitor before deciding what to put in your will. A will can cover a range of issues, including:

  • who should inherit your property, money, other assets and possessions
  • how your children should be cared for
  • who should be responsible for looking after your estate (the executors)
  • special arrangements for your funeral
  • and charitable donations you would like to make

How a solicitor can help

Wills are often straightforward but some involve complicated arrangements and financial affairs, such as inheritance tax - all the more reason to ensure they are drawn up by a qualified solicitor. You can search here if you need help finding a solicitor. Even if your will is simple and you want to write it yourself, it is advisable to consult a solicitor to avoid pitfalls and ensure all the legal formalities have been followed correctly, otherwise it may be invalid. DIY and internet wills are available but there are obvious risks where no personal advice is given.

You can also view more information on why a solicitor is the best person to make your will.

Helping with arrangements

Your solicitor can help your family or executors contact undertakers and arrange for the death certificate to be issued by the General Register Office for Scotland.

Acting as an executor

Executors are responsible for dealing with assets of the estate. Solicitors are often named as executors when a will is drawn up. Others, such as family members, can also act as executors.

Going to court

If there is no will, it may be necessary to apply to the sheriff court to appoint an executor. A solicitor will have to prepare the forms for the court to appoint the executor.

Changing a will

Changes can easily be made to wills - a solicitor will ensure they are legally binding.

Keeping a will safe

It is important to keep your will safe. If your solicitor has drawn up the will, he or she will usually keep the original and send you a copy.

Price

A simple will can cost very little. Others may qualify for legal aid funding. Give you solicitor a call today to discuss your options and the likely costs.

During September and November, some solicitors offer a free service in return for a donation to charity (see www.willreliefscotland.co.uk/ or www.willaid.org.uk).

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