Creating a will

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Health Assured team

18 February 2022

A will can be defined as a legal document in which an individual (commonly known as testator) declares their intention of what should happen to their estate after they pass away. This can often be something that individuals often forget to consider creating during their lifetime, but the creation of a will can provide reassurance that your family and friends will be secure if you passed away suddenly.

Creating a will is therefore understood to be one of the most important legal acts a person can do in their lifetime. It has been established by recent research conducted by the Royal London, IRN and YouGov that:

  • 5 million adults in the UK do not know the process of creating a will.
  • 54 percent of adults in the UK do not have a will.
  • 59 percent of parents do not have a will, or it has not been updated to reflect their children.

 

Creating a valid will

Wills are executed in accordance with the Wills Act 1837 in which it states that a will can only be valid if the following elements exist:

  • Individual creating (testator) the will is aged 18 years old or over.
  • The will is created voluntarily and not under duress or coercion.
  • Individual (testator) has mental capacity.
  • The will is drafted in writing.
  • The will has been signed by the testator with two witnesses present.
  • The will has been signed by the two witnesses, in the presence of the testator.

To create a valid will, individuals can either create this themselves or use a solicitor to create this on their behalf. It is recommended to use a solicitor for more complex or larger estates to ensure any intentions are accurately depicted and will be fulfilled as the testator intended. However, if individuals have a small estate or intend to create a simple will, for example where everything is being passed on to one beneficiary, you can choose to create the will yourself. These are referred to as DIY wills.

 

DIY wills

Many individuals choose to create a DIY will as this will reduce legal costs. It is important that all conditions under the Wills Act 1837 are met when the will is drafted. If this act is not followed and all of the conditions met, the will becomes void, and the estate will pass according to the rules of intestacy.

Furthermore, it is vital that the will terminology is clear and concise with no ambiguous or vague terms. If the terms of a will are not clear, it could result in gifts and wishes of the testator becoming void under the will and not passing to the intended beneficiary.

A DIY will be more exposed to the (Provisions for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, as a DIY document is likely to attract more claims if not done correctly.

 

Things to consider when creating a will 

It is best practice to value the estate prior to creating the document as this allows you to create a clear understanding of the assets you need to include. The estate will include personal possessions such as savings, properties, and land.

The will has individuals called executors who will have the responsibility of carrying out your wishes listed within the will once you pass away. It is best practice to name more than one executor in case one of them predeceases the testator. Executors can be anyone you choose include a family member, friend, or solicitors.  

 

Amending a will

Once a will has been created, it would need to be amended using a document called a codicil. The codicil will need to be signed and witnessed in line with the same process as creating a will. Although there are no limitations on how many codicils can be implemented on a will, it can become more difficult to determine the testators’ intentions where multiple codicils exist. Furthermore, if a will requires major alterations, then a new will should be created. The new will should clearly state that any old will with codicils are void, and the old will should be destroyed immediately.

 

If you'd like to find out more information on how to create a will, contact Health Assured on: 

UK: 0844 892 2493

ROI: 01 886 0324

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