How to Write and Maintain an Effective Will

 

As a responsible citizen, it is likely that you will drive safely, put your rubbish in the bin, pay your taxes, clean up after your dog and have made that sure you’ve written a will.  Whilst it is evident that you must drive safely every day, we relentlessly continue to create rubbish and therefore must continue to dispose of it properly; taxes are one of the few ‘certain’ things in life; your dog continues to……well, you get the idea!

In the same way, when it comes to writing a will, there is an essential ongoing need to keep it accurate and up-to-date if your wishes are to be fulfilled upon your death.

Writing a will is often seen as one of those begrudging duties that you keep putting off doing. Your wise friends or colleagues may one day register amazement that you haven’t already done the sensible and responsible thing by consulting a solicitor to draft your will. So, when you have eventually summoned up the wherewithal and actually written a will, it would seem appropriate to sit back and relax! You feel safe in the knowledge that when the inevitable happens your loved ones will receive what was intended for them.

All Things Change

However, as we all learn, sooner or later, all things change. Life is change. Let’s face it, it would be surprising if you were still using Windows XP or had to carry the batteries for your mobile phone in a small briefcase. In the same way, whether you like it or not, your life and the things that you hold dear will inevitably – albeit sometimes imperceptibly – change.

There are job changes, financial highs and lows, children, divorces, new cars, house moves, bereavements…

A change in marital status will inevitably and evidently demand an appropriate redrafting of your will to reflect your current reality. If this does not happen, even if your will is prepared to the finest legal standards on the best parchment available, it will not change the fact that it will not do what you want. In this case, your will must be redrafted to reflect your current status.

Reflection

On a regular basis – perhaps every three years, it is good practice to consider the main elements of your will and consider for a moment, “Does my will reflect my current wishes?”, or have things materially or emotionally changed and moved on? If you were to die tomorrow, would your present will be appropriate and fit for purpose?

Getting Your Will Right in the First Instance

Technical Issues

Whilst your will may accurately reflect your wishes, is it invalid by virtue of technical issues? Was it signed? Was it witnessed and dated? A failure in one of these fundamental areas will render your wishes invalid.

Clarity Issues

When drafting a will it is important to be clear and specific. Leaving a sum of money to your “best friend” may be noble and honourable, but unless that person is directly named it will be rendered useless as a wish.

Currency

Make sure that your will is still appropriate; have you sold that classic car that you once intended to give to your nephew, George for his eighteenth birthday present? Have you moved house and therefore the title deeds to 12 Marlborough Crescent, Winstonshire are no longer yours to give to your daughter Amy?

A professionally drawn up and regularly updated will is the safest way to ensure that your dying wishes are fully respected.