Is a handwritten will legal? - Made in Safe

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Is a handwritten will legal?

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Wills are often a misunderstood area of law. Many believe Wills to be complicated and difficult to create, but in reality, a Will can be legally binding even if it’s written on an old fag packet. As long as the ‘fag packet’ is witnessed and signed by two separate people (who do not benefit from the Will), it is legally valid under English law.

An unwitnessed Will made before 1995 may be valid though as the law was changed around that time. Most forms of Wills, in any media type, can be taken as valid or invalid depending on the situation, complexity of the Will and the structure of beneficiaries.

For example, if there is only one beneficiary to a fairly simple estate, chances are even the most basic Will will be valid.

But in a complicated case with multiple beneficiaries and various assets the Will may not be valid and will therefore need to be more robust. In an ideal world, your Will should be created with a solicitor and contain as much, or as little detail as needed to service the Will. The cost of doing so is negligible and will avoid long term complications.

Typically, a solicitor will charge between £150 and £300 for a joint Will or something similarly simple.

But, if you’re determined to save on the cost and do your own Will then we’d suggest following these golden rules.

Write an introduction to the Will detailing your full name, address and testament.

Select the best executor. The person most suitable to be an executor isn’t always your closest friend or family member. The role comes with lots of responsibility, so those closest to you may struggle after you’re gone to fulfil those tasks. You need to get their permission, too.

Identify your beneficiaries. Choosing those who will receive assets, heir looms or monetary benefits is the biggest part of your Will. Be clear who these beneficiaries are and state full details so there are no complications.

Name your guardians for any dependants or minors. If your children are not of adult age, then a guardian will need to be stipulated by you in the Will. Contrary to popular belief, children do not always go to the other parent. When a father dies, the children are automatically placed under the guardianship of the mother, but the same cannot be said when it is the mother who passes away, so ensure this is detailed in the Will.

List all assets and property and where you would like these assets placed upon your death. It is common to suggest a percentage by-person - for example, 50% to your partner and 25% to each child. Alternatively, you can make individual bequests for certain assets to be passed to named heirs. Ultimately, the choice is yours as to how your assets are distributed.

Sign the Will properly and have it witnessed by two people who do not benefit from the Will or a solicitor.

If you follow these simple steps, your DIY Will should stand up in court and be deemed as legally binding. But to save you the stress and ensure you have peace of mind, it’s well worth seeking the advice of an expert.

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