2010 - 2017
Making a Will is not about wealth it is about making sure that what you want to happen to your estate does happen. It gives you the opportunity to specify such things as who will administer your estate, who will care for your children and who will receive specific items of your property.
You may not have the opportunity to put your affairs in order as so often quoted in the movies.
It is very helpful to your executors if you draw up a list of your assets and liabilities to place with the will.
You should update this from time to time as your investments change. The whereabouts of your title deeds should be included in the list although paper deeds are gradually being phased out following the introduction of electronic storage by the Land Registry.
You may also wish to keep with the will a list of people to be notified of your death so as to be given the opportunity of attending your funeral.
Some years ago I was dismayed to have a letter to a friend returned by a solicitor with a letter to say that the friend had died.
The lady concerned had always spent several months of the year travelling the world and so was often out of touch for weeks at a time. It seemed nobody had located her address website to contact those who might want to attend her funeral. Several people were thus denied the opportunity to pay their last respects to someone they had known for over 20 years.
A word of caution: if you do keep a list of assets or people to invite to your funeral, do not attach it to your will. When the will goes to the Probate Registry any marks which may indicate that something else has been attached to it at some time may cause problems. The suspicion is that there may have been a codicil attached.
For this reason do not attach anything to your will by means of a paper-clip, pin or staple.
The executors need not know the contents of your will until after your death. Indeed, it is probably wise never to mention the contents of the will to anyone.
Married couples will generally discuss the contents of their wills, of course, in order to decide the ultimate destination of their property. Otherwise, keep quiet. Never give anyone the opportunity of challenging your will at a later date; there have been numerous instances of people going to court over promises made to them that did not get fulfilled in the will. All they need to know is that you have made a will and that you have stored it in a certain place.
It may be a good idea to provide your executors and/or family with a copy of the will in a sealed envelope so that they can refer to it immediately after your death. They may, for example, want to check the will for funeral wishes at a time when the original is not readily available. If you have made and stored your will at a solicitor's office and your death occurs at a weekend it is unlikely the original will be accessible immediately.
Likewise, if the only copy is at your house there may be circumstances in which the executors cannot obtain ready access to it.
This assumes that you have told your executors of their appointment. Although not essential it is highly advisable to warn them of their appointment and, indeed, seek their consent to act before naming them in your will.