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Write Your WILL!
You should write your own Will, not because you're about to die, but because you are making an important statement about your intentions. By expressing your opinions and preferences about what you intend to be done with your worldly possessions in your Will, you are in control of some future situations about which you'd otherwise have abdicated power.
There are a few misconceptions about writing a Will. To write a Will, you don't need a solicitor, you don't need to be rich, and you don't need to be old. Also, you don't need a quill pen and some parchment, although these things are symbolic.
Writing a Will is a bit like having a Vote by Proxy. It's like saying "I'd like to express my democratic opinion in the Vote, even though I'll be on holiday when the election is on!"
If you don't have a Will when you die, they'll say you were "IN TEST ATE" - or Intestate, which is an unceremonious situation not entirely unlike being born without a piece of paper to say your parents were officially married. However, with the parental matter there's nothing you could have done about it. With the Will, there is! You can decide in advance to write a Will, and to avoid being intestate.
If you die in the unfortunate position of being intestate, various default rules will be applied to what is to be done with your stuff, and generally these won't be to your liking.
What if you don't intend to ever die? If you plan on living on forever, you had better have a pretty clever idea about it - something that makes you different from the normal people who do sooner or later die. Cryonics is a good idea as an attempt to avoid death. But if you are planning on that, then you REALLY need a WILL! Long-term, your best chance of survival is GOOD PLANNING, and because there is no certainty, it's a good idea to have made a Will in advance, before the unexpected but not unforeseen happens. Now these helpful people at Friendly Wills have devised a way you can write your own Will. It's inexpensive, involves not much fuss, and most importantly, YOU decide what you want!
Of course you could just walk away and hope that by not thinking about Wills, death, and planning for the future, etc it'll all just go away and you'll never die. I would argue that the opposite is the case. By deliberately planning for eventualities it may if anything help to PREVENT such things happening. I mean, if you take out an umbrella just in case it might rain, isn't that umbrella more likely to come home DRY?! By that rationale, you should make a Will and it may help avoid your death!
Some of the stuff on this page was initially included in my own comments on the page about Friendly Wills, but I have elaborated on it since then. Here are a few helpful Will writing resources:
www.thewillexpert.co.uk/home.htm - oops!
RNLI - the Lifeboat people - They save people who are in trouble on the sea, but they were offering a free Will-writing service last time I looked. If you are helped by the RNLI, you aren't compelled to make a contribution, but most people DO!
WH Smith - home of the famous "WH Smith Will-Writing Kit", an inexpensive do-it-yourself kit by which you can write your own Will.
Life Insurance is a thing to consider in the context of writing a Will.
A few other notes:
* If you have a lot of money, and you live in the UK, try to make sure you escape and emigrate at least ten years before you die, or the UK government could end up collecting it. See the unfair laws about death duties (inheritance tax) and DOMICILE
* Writing a Will can save tax, but you'd better get some good advice from an expert on that.
* When you write your Will, don't sign it immediately, but make sure you have a witness present to see you sign it. Then sign it, and get the witness to sign it. Having got the Will signed by yourself and the First Witness in each other's sight, you can then get a second witness to sign it just to finish it off. Keeps it all official. By the way, a witness can be anyone over 18 provided they aren't a beneficiary of the Will. How about your neighbours?
* If you have assets in more than one country, you need a Will for each country. So, if you have a house in Britain and a holiday home in Spain, you have one Will that says on it "This is my UK Will", and another which says "This is my Spanish Will". Again, don't quote me on that; just make sure you get some expert advice.
* Having your wishes carried out regarding your funeral arrangements is something best not left to chance. This is especially notable if you have unusual funeral arrangements, which guess what, I do! Golden Charter is one of the places that can help to get things organised up front while you're still alive, and that way you have a good chance of getting what you want.
* Beware of having a long and complex legalistic Will. I've seen at least one case where such a thing ends up leaving the next of kin tied up in legal knots unable to do anything with the money until one of them dies. Also, long complex Wills can go out of date and leave an entirely inappropriate situation when the time comes. So, it needs reviewing and changing as appropriate.
* It's a little-known fact that in the UK, if you die, the tax office can demand 40% of your money even before the beneficiaries can get any of it, or even any control of it. The tax office can effectively put your business into a quasi-bankrupt state and demand all the money up front even before the bereaved are allowed to sell the house. They may have to get a bank loan to bridge the gap. It's a scandal, and it has only been allowed to continue because of the assumption that no-one tells the truth about it in public to forewarn the next generation. However, now the secret is OUT!
To add insult to injury, in the UK, dead people are forced to pay tax, and they don't get any personal living allowances. In my opinion this amounts to a tax-grabbing racket inflicted upon the traumatised bereaved. This is another reason to escape from the UK!
Please note that the material on this page is not a legal opinion, and just some helpful advice by someone who has a business worth running. I also wrote how to run a business, and there's also a page about tax havens
If you have something to add, or you'd like to correct some error I might have made, you are welcome to write in and let's see what can be done.