Planning a will is never an easy time and can cause a great deal of stress if you’re not prepared.
Deciding how to distribute your assets equitably among your loved ones requires a lot of understanding and empathy and having a qualified solicitor help you navigate through the decision process can make the all the difference for better decisions.
Before you see a solicitor having a good understanding of the questions, you’ll be asked will help you be more emotionally prepared and take away some of the stress, so you can feel better prepared.
Here are six questions a solicitor will ask when putting together your will.
What do you hope to achieve with a will?
Everyone has individual circumstances that will differ. Your asset and debt pool needs to be considered with detail. A solicitor will want to know if you have any children with special needs if you plan to pay for your children or grandchildren’s higher education and university fees.
What is your family situation?
The purpose of a will is to make sure your estate and assets are distributed to the family members who you decide you want it to go to. Most people will leave most or art of their estate to their children, but other considerations of other family members may also be needed. Your solicitor needs to know if you are married, have children, have grandchildren, have parents who are still alive or have any adopted children or stepchildren. The more information on your family situation, the more your solicitor will have a better understanding of who can possibly be an heir or the direct line to your assets and how you’d like them divided.
What is your health situation?
Depending on your age and health situation, a solicitor will have a good understanding of your will is going to change in the immediate future or not. If you are planning a will in your twenties and healthy and have not accumulated many assets, considerations for your will vary significantly than if you’re elderly and ill. A solicitor will need to know if you have any current health conditions which could alter your decision making and if time is of a crucial factor.
What assets do you own?
After having a better understanding of your family and health situation, a solicitor will need to know more about your current finances. They will want to know what property you own in your name as opposed to jointly owned, also, what debts and taxes are tied to the property.
Insurances like life insurance need to be evaluated, and your solicitor can talk with you about how to manage any mortgage or other debts that need to be minimised so not to pass on to your family where possible.
Besides your house, your solicitor can go over any other family heirlooms and prized possessions you may want to pass on to different family members.
Who gets what assets?
Often this can be an emotional decision, and your solicitor can help you be a reliable sounding board on how to divide your assets. They will help you make logical and practical decisions as they’re not emotionally connected to the assets as you will be. Your solicitor will ask you who you want to inherit your estate and how this can be divided equally and fairly if there is more than one person. In the case that you decide a minor to inherit your estate, family trusts will need to be set up with appropriate age restrictions.
Often this is when a minor is 18, but it can be older, which can be another decision based on your reasoning, which needs to be discussed in detail. The division of other family heirlooms and personal items such as jewellery may also need to be thought about in detail before you see your solicitor.
Who will be your executor of the will?
An executor of a will is the person you appoint who will be responsible for administering your estate and wishes in your will after you’ve passed away. This person may need to do a variety of duties, so you’ll need to think about someone who you believe will be able to handle some tough jobs. This is a vital role and should be chosen carefully.
Some of the duties can include; selling property, confirming insurances, notifying beneficiaries, determining debts and liabilities, collecting valuables and income, distributing the estate, preparing financial statements, and more. You solicitor will also go over if your wishes are to give any assets to other people outside your family, a trust company or a charity of your choice.
Planning a will is more involved than you may have thought. Having a good solicitor to help you cover all bases have your plan followed by the law to reflect your wishes accurately will you give you immense peace of mind.
At Wilson Haynes Law, we are happy to assist you with any other of your enquiries about making a will.
Article by Jim Wilson
Jim Wilson was admitted to practice in the 1970s and has gained a wide range of high-level legal and commercial leadership experience.