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  • Writer's pictureBrenden OSullivan

5 Essential Steps to Making a Will in the UK

When considering the future and how to best prepare for the inevitable, creating a will is a fundamental step. In the UK, making a will can ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and can provide peace of mind for both you and your loved ones. This article outlines five essential steps for making a will in the UK, providing a clear guide to secure your legacy and protect your family's interests.

Key Takeaways

  • Decide on the structure of your will, ensuring it aligns with your personal circumstances and business interests.

  • Consider writing your will online for convenience, using reputable platforms that guide you through the process.

  • Understand the intestacy rules in the UK, which come into effect if you die without a valid will, to appreciate the importance of making one.

  • Explore the options for setting up trusts and care planning to protect your assets and provide for your loved ones.

  • Learn about the process of estate administration after death to ensure your will is executed as intended and legal obligations are met.

1. Deciding on Business Structure

When embarking on the journey of starting your own business, the first crucial step is to map out your business plan. This blueprint will not only clarify your goals but also highlight potential strengths and weaknesses, guiding you towards informed decisions.

Choosing the right legal structure for your business is paramount. In the UK, you have the option to operate as a Sole trader, form a Partnership, or establish a Limited company. Each structure carries its own implications for liability, taxation, and control:

  • Sole trader: Simple to set up, full control, personal liability

  • Partnership: Shared responsibility, profits, and liabilities

  • Limited company: Separate legal entity, limited liability, more complex

It's also essential to consider your legal obligations early on. Neglecting legal factors can significantly impact the success of your business. As you determine the value of your estate, list your assets and liabilities, and choose executors and trustees, remember that these decisions will shape the management and distribution of your assets in the future.

2. Writing a Will Online

In today's digital age, writing a will online has become a convenient option for many. With a plethora of online will-making services at your fingertips, you can draught a legally binding document from the comfort of your home. It's important to choose a service that aligns with your needs and budget.

Here's a list of some popular online will-making programmes:

  • Nolo's Quicken WillMaker & Trust

  • Fabric by Gerber Life

  • LegalZoom

  • Do Your Own Will

  • U.S. Legal Wills

  • FreeWill

  • Rocket Lawyer

  • Total Legal

  • Trust & Will

  • Gentreo

Each service offers different features and pricing, so it's worth comparing them to find the best fit. For instance, Total Legal provides an online interview to tailor your will, and U.S. Legal Wills claims you can have a will ready in just 20 minutes. Remember, after creating your will online, you must follow the proper legal procedures to sign and witness the document to make it valid.

3. Understanding Intestacy Rules

When you haven't left a will, the intestacy rules in England and Wales dictate how your estate will be distributed. It's crucial to grasp these rules as they may not align with your wishes for your loved ones. For instance, cohabiting couples often mistakenly believe they are automatically entitled to their partner's estate; this is not the case without a will.

If you pass away without a will and have no immediate family, your estate could end up with distant relatives or even the Crown. To avoid such outcomes, consider the following steps:

  • Review the intestacy rules and how they apply to your situation.

  • Discuss your estate plans with a legal professional.

  • Consider drafting a will to ensure your wishes are met.

Remember, intestacy rules can be complex, and without a will, you have no control over who inherits your assets.

4. Setting Up Trusts and Care Planning

When considering the future of your estate, setting up trusts can be a pivotal step in ensuring your assets are managed according to your wishes. Trusts can provide a level of control over how your assets are distributed and can be particularly useful for care planning. To begin, you'll need to identify your assets, which include property, savings, and investments. Then, it's crucial to choose your trustees wisely; they will be responsible for managing the trust in line with your intentions.

Understanding the legalities and the potential need for replacement attorneys is also important. Should one attorney be unable to act, having a replacement can safeguard the continuity of your care plan. Here's a brief overview of the steps involved in setting up a trust:

  1. Identify your assets and take stock of what you own.

  2. Choose your trustees and discuss your expectations with them.

  3. Consider the need for replacement attorneys to ensure uninterrupted management.

  4. Get legal advice to align your advance decision with your Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).

  5. Notify relevant parties when the LPA is registered, as per section 6 of the guide.

Remember, the decisions made by your attorneys should always be in your best interests, and they may need to seek permission from the Court of Protection for certain actions.

5. Administering Estate After Death

Once you've taken the crucial step of creating a will in the UK, the administration of your estate after your death becomes a more straightforward process. Your appointed executors will have the responsibility to manage and distribute your assets according to your wishes. It's essential to choose executors who are both trustworthy and capable of handling the legal, financial, and emotional tasks involved.

Here are some key responsibilities your executors will need to undertake:

  • Obtaining a grant of probate or letters of administration

  • Valuing the estate's assets and liabilities

  • Settling any outstanding debts and taxes

  • Distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries

Remember, the role of an executor can be demanding, and it's a position that comes with legal obligations. If you have any doubts or require assistance, professional advice is always available.

Navigating the complexities of administering an estate after a loved one's passing can be a daunting task. At East Sussex Wills, we offer compassionate and professional guidance to help you through this difficult time. Our expert team is equipped to handle all aspects of estate planning, ensuring that your loved one's wishes are honoured and the process is as smooth as possible. For a personalised service that meets your specific needs, visit our 'Estate Planning' section and let us assist you in every step of the way.

Conclusion

In conclusion, drafting a will is a crucial step in ensuring your wishes are honoured and your loved ones are provided for after your passing. The process can seem daunting, but by following the essential steps outlined in this article, you can create a legally sound document that reflects your intentions. Remember, it's not just about distributing assets; it's about peace of mind and the assurance that your affairs are in order. Whether you choose to write your will online, consult with a legal professional, or use a will-making programme, the important thing is to take action. Don't leave the future to chance—make your will a priority and safeguard the future of those you care about most.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the essential steps to making a will in the UK?

The essential steps include deciding on your business structure, writing a will online or with legal assistance, understanding intestacy rules, setting up trusts and care planning, and administering the estate after death.

Can I write a will online in the UK?

Yes, there are online platforms such as U.S. Legal Wills and Total Legal that provide tools to help you create a will online. However, ensure that the will complies with UK legal requirements.

What happens if I die without a will in the UK?

If you die without a will, known as dying intestate, your estate will be distributed according to the intestacy rules, which may not align with your wishes.

Why is it important to set up trusts and care planning?

Setting up trusts can help manage and protect your assets for beneficiaries, while care planning ensures that your health and welfare preferences are respected later in life.

What should I do from a legal perspective when someone close to me has died?

You should check the will for instructions, apply for probate if necessary, and manage the administration of the estate, which includes distributing assets and paying any taxes owed.

How much does it cost to make a will online?

The cost varies by platform; for example, U.S. Legal Wills typically charges $39.95, while Total Legal offers a last will and testament for $19.95. Additional services may incur extra charges.

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