Your Will

Almost certainly you already have a will – to make sure your wishes are carried out when the time comes.

But how long ago was it written? Does it need to be brought up to date?

What might have changed? Are there now grandchildren to have in mind? Is everyone mentioned still alive? Do you want to change the executors? Is it written in the light of current inheritance legislation?

  • Do it now

    There is no time like the present to dig out this vital document and get some help to bring it up to date.

    Jesus told the story of a rich mean man who stashed everything he owned in massive barns as though he would live forever. Unfortunately, he died soon afterwards and heaven knows what happened to all that money.

    God calls us to be good stewards of what he gives us and that includes our estate after death. Deciding how to manage that takes some thought and planning.

    It’s a privilege to choose where to leave our possessions and savings. Without a legal will it will most likely end up in HM Treasury’s coffers.

  • The legal issues

    For a will to be legal it must be –

    • Voluntarily made in writing
    • By someone aged 18 or over, who is of a sound mind.
    • Signed by the person it in the presence of two witnesses.
  • Changing an existing will

    Small amendments to your will – like the executors, adding grandchildren or including a legacy – can be made with ease by using a document called a codicil.

    A codicil is an uncomplicated document that –

    • Is cheaper than writing a new will if using a solicitor.
    • Allows you to change anything from a single word to multiple changes in different parts of your will. Though the fewer changes the better.
    • Is particularly helpful when wanting to leave a sum of money to a charity or individual. And most charities will provide you with a blank codicil to leave something in their favour.
    • Has to be signed and witnessed in the same way as a will, though not necessarily by the same people. And they should not be someone whose spouse will receive benefit from the change.

    Blank documents and guidance are available for a small fee from Legalo

    A codicil should be kept safely with your original will.

  • Writing a new will

    Though writing a will is not difficult, it does require some guidance so that the legal formalities are properly completed.

    There are do-it-your-self kits and ready-made ones available on the internet. But it is probably wise to visit a solicitor who can guide you through the details. They will probably charge £150 to £300 for a couple and £100 to £200 for a single person.

    Before you begin you need to –

    • List everything that you own (property, investments, cash in the bank) and what you owe (mortgage, credit cards, loans.)
    • List anything or any sums of money that you want to leave to specific people.
    • Choose your executors – those with the responsibility to carry out the instructions in your will.
    • Decide how you want your estate – what you own – to be distributed. Often people leave specific legacies to named people and charities. What is left after that, and when all the bills are paid (the ‘residue’) can be shared amongst other individuals and good causes.

    Make sure your new will clearly says it revokes any older wills or codicils.

    Once written the will needs to be stored safely – your executors needs to know where. A copy could also be left with the solicitor.

  • Tax

    As the law stands at the moment, inheritance tax must be paid on anything above £325,000 (or £650,000 for couples) – currently at the rate of 40 per cent. With this in mind you may be wise to consult an independent financial advisor.

    However, anything given to a charity is exempt from inheritance tax.

    You will find more about inheritance tax and lots of other helpful information about writing wills at Stewardship

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The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years"

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife