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As you may already know, a person's last will and testament is a legal document stating how he or she would like to divide an estate. Basically, your estate consists of your house, cash, savings, your car, any other valuable assets that you may have, proceeds from your life insurance plan and pensions. In as much as a last will and testament can indicate what your beneficiary will receive in terms of benefits, any outstanding loans, credit card balances, household bills and even funeral expenses will also be handled by the beneficiary of your will.
If you think that you do not have to make a will simply because you do not have real estate investments or if you are only renting a small apartment, think again. No matter how little your assets are worth, your will still indicates how you would like the material things that you left to be handled in the event of your death. Without a will, complex Intestacy Laws will be applied to whatever assets you have left, and your wishes will not necessarily be carried out simply because you failed to take the time to write your last will and testament.
Before learning more about who can make a will, here is a checklist of the questions that you need to ask yourself when making this legal document:
The rule of thumb to follow when writing a will is that it should be as detailed as possible, while being but kept as simple as you can. There are also certain procedures that need to be observed, in order for you to get confirmation that your will is legal, which we will learn more about in the last section.
Next, who can make a will? The short answer is anyone who is of legal age. Similar to any legal documents, there are certain rules that need to be followed when making a will. In Scotland, for instance, you can make a will from age 12 and above. In England, Northern Ireland and Wales, you do need to be at least 18 years of age before you can write a will. Northern Ireland residents who are married before they turn 18 may also write a will. Anyone can make a will, but there are certain things that must be in place for it to be legal and there is always the risk that the contents of a will may not be enforceable if certain wording is not followed.
If you get married or enter into a civil partnership, the will that you wrote while you were still single becomes invalid, so you may wish to update it. The only exception is when the will was written in anticipation of your marrying or entering a civil partnership with a particular individual. Generally, anyone who is of legal age and has some sort of property that they would like to leave in the capable hands of certain family members would need to craft a will in case something unfortunate happens.
After creating the will, you need to have at least two witnesses sign the document after adding your signature. The two witnesses should be over 18 years of age, of sound mind and should not be related to you in any way. These witnesses do not necessarily have to see the contents of your will, only the ceremony of you signing it.
Finally, after signing your will and having it signed by the witnesses, leave it in a safe place. Make sure that your executors or closest family members also know where it is being kept, because the executors need the original will and not a copy.