Consumer heavyweight Len Dastard's guide to Wills – Part 1

11 January 2011

El día bueno, los lectores! Arranging a will is an important subject that I have taught many an opponent, what with being El Bastardo, Murderer of Dreams.

My days of strangling opponents in the ring may be few and far between, especially since my wrestling personae is only a cover for my true identity, that of a real-life litigation executive. Nevertheless, I am certain I could strangle a man, so I now share this with you, mis amigos, in case I strangle you. Ha ha ha, only joking. No estoy bromeando.

What is a Will?
A Will is a legal document in which you state what you would like to happen to your estate once you die.

What is an estate?
An estate can consist of your house (less any mortgage or other loans secured against it) cash and savings, personal property or proceeds from any life assurances and pensions. It pretty much can be all that would belong to you in life and then falling due to you on death.

Why should I make a Will?
It is very important that you make a Will despite how much or little you are worth. Without a Will your friends and family will be at the mercy of the law in deciding what happens to your belongings despite this being against any of your wishes.

Can a letter be as legal as a Will?
There are requirements as to the validity of a Will. One of the biggest requirements is that the Will has to be signed and dated in the presence of two witnesses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and just one witness in Scotland. As long as this letter complied
with this requirement there should not be any problems. It is however advisable to make a formal Will.

What can I specify in my Will?
In your Will you will be able to deal with:

• who you wish to act as executor (we will come to this soon) of your Will
• how you would like your funeral conducted
• whether you wish to donate organs or donate your body for medical research
• how to provide for your pets or your favourite charity
• who you wish to act as guardian of your children and provide for their upkeep
• who you wish to receive certain personal items etc. These items are usually part of your estate.

What are executors?
Although I have executed many opponents during my days in the ring (remember Guadalajara in '74?), I am not an executor of a Will. An executor (or executrix if appointing a female) is the person who looks after your Will when you die. This person can be:

• your husband, wife or partner
• your son or daughter (if over 18 at the time of your death)
• your brother or sister
• partners of a law firm
• a close friend
• a beneficiary (someone who benefits from your Will) as mentioned in your Will

It is always advisable to ask a person if they are willing to be your executor. You can appoint up to 4 executors, but you should appoint at least 2.

What does it cost to draw up a Will?
Dependent on who does this for you it will differ. There are a few websites that offer a free Will that you would put together yourself, such as Compact Law.

I would always recommend something as important as drawing up a Will is initially discussed with someone legally qualified. Mistakes can happen and this can cause many problems when the Will is required. Those aged 55 and over can join in with Free Wills Month for the whole of March. Details can be found here.

There is also a scheme called Will Aid where you make a donation following the drawing up of your Will.

If you were to instruct a solicitor privately then be prepared to pay in the region of £80 - £250 for either a comprehensive single Will or a joint Will.

That is all for the moment. In Part 2 we will what executors do and tax implications arising from making a Will. Until then, permanezca vivo!


  • kfcws
    One very important thing to do is TELL the executor which solicitors you have drawn the will with. As if it cannot be located your wishes cannot be taken into account after your death, It's not a plesant experience asking all the local solicitors if your dead relative had a will lodged with them.
  • The B.
    I keep meaning to as no one should have to go through the farce that is probate, mind you, private pensions have to go through probate regardless as my mother is currently finding out.
  • Len D.
    kfcws - that was going to be mentioned in Part 2. But, as you say, it is VERY important that you make them aware. Many people do not like to consider Wills as they consider it a morbid subject but if you can get it done once (and properly!) it does save so much hassle. The Real Bob - I will touch on pensions in the next piece but tax issues relating to Wills are such a mess and could do with clearing up to make it more straightforward to deal with. Wait for Wills Week - you can save so much money.
  • Whisky
    Bob, regardless of whether a will has been made or not probate must still be obtained by the executor or close relative if no will has been made. Probate gives permission for the holder to deal with the deceased's estate. It is extremely frustrating telling a family member that they can’t sell the house of a dead relative without probate, especially when an unhelpful, and lets face it, educationally challenged estate agent is saying otherwise. Imagine the relatives surprise when the solicitor pointed this out when contracts were about to be exchanged. Further more, that moving the money out of the deceased's savings account was illegal.
  • kfcws
    Just a quick question for your future part.... what can and can't be included in a will. ie. I'm seperated with a child that lives with me, Ex isn't in contact anymore. In the event of my death can I specify in my will what I would like to happen with residence etc.

What do you think?

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