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Making your Will allows you to set out your wishes so that your loved ones know what you would like to happen when you die.
The things to consider when making your Will include who you would like to deal with everything (your Executors), who you would like to look after your children (your Guardians), what your funeral wishes are, whether you would like to leave anything specific to anyone and who you would like to leave everything else to.
For a Will to be legally binding, it must be a valid Will. In order for a Will to be valid, it must comply with the following requirements:
If you have children under 18 years old, you will need to name a guardian in your Will. Legal Guardianship only takes effect when there are no surviving parents or adults with parental responsibility for that child.
Choosing a guardian can be one of the hardest decisions a parent can make. When choosing, you should consider their location, age, health and whether they share the same values as you. Most people will appoint family members or friends to be guardians.
If someone dies without making their Will, there is a strict order in which their estate is shared out and this is known as the ‘rules of intestacy’.
These rules are set out in law and apply to everyone’s estate unless they have written their Will.
If you are married or in a civil partnership but do not have children, your partner will inherit everything you owned (apart from jointly owned property with others). If you do have children, your partner will receive the first £270,000 plus 50% of the remaining and your children will receive the other 50%.
If you are in a relationship but not married or civil partnered, there are no automatic rights. If you are unmarried and don’t have children, other family members will benefit in a strict order governed by the law.
An executor of a Will is someone you nominate to carry out the wishes in your Will. They have all of the legal powers necessary to deal with your estate and distribute everything you own exactly how you would like.
Your executor can be family members, friends or a combination of both. The most important thing when choosing your executor is you trust this person to carry out your wishes.
In order for your Will to be legally valid, you need to sign it in the presence of two witnesses. These witnesses must be over 18, of sound mind and not fully or partially blind.
The important thing to note is that the witness cannot be anyone who is benefiting under your Will, or married to anyone benefiting under your Will.