5 Tips For Home Workers On Making An Effective Will

willMany of us make the mistake of believing our affairs are too simple to need a Will, or that our estate is too small to bother much about. Unfortunately, many of us are wrong and the ones who find out about it are the very ones a Will could have protected.

1. Your Will Should Be Your Priority

If you work or run a business from home, the chances that you’re already overstretched time-wise are strong. Add in all those smudged boundaries between work and leisure and, even if you occasionally think about making a Will, it’s probably something that gets forever pushed back to tomorrow.

We all have only so many tomorrows, however, and in an uncertain world it makes sense to organise them wherever possible. Dying intestate (meaning without a Will) could mean your estate bypasses those you most want to benefit. According to the Law Society, 23% of people believe their estate will automatically pass to their family if they don’t make a Will. This isn’t necessarily true.

Do what you need to do in order to give Will making some priority. Pencil a ‘Will’ slot into your diary or mark it on the ‘todo’ list if that’s the only way to keep it front of mind.

2. Take Care of the Children

Many of us see our children as part of our legacy. They’ll carry on the family name, maybe take over the business one day, and ensure we’re remembered after we’re gone. None of us likes to think too deeply about our own mortality, but where children’s inheritances are concerned, it’s vital.

Making a Will means you can appoint guardians to care for minor children as they grow, rather than leaving their ongoing nurturing to chance. It also means your grown children get the share of your estate they deserve.

In the case of cherished stepchildren, it’s even more important since these will be excluded from any inheritance from your estate unless you draw up a Will and include them.

3. Don’t Forget Business Assets

When it comes to business, home workers need to assess who will inherit and, in the case of co-owners or partners, who gets what share.

Very often, home working is seen as a casual affair and is possibly excluded from Will considerations. However, if you’re running a business, and in particular if you have a business partner, would that partner expect to take over completely? Would your family expect to continue earning from business profits, possibly replacing you in the running of the business? Even the simplest of business concerns can become complex when it comes to inheritance.

Don’t make your Will too private an affair. Talk it over with everyone, from family to business associates, so you all know each other’s thoughts and feelings. Taking advice from a solicitor can also help you sort out details and highlight considerations you may not have identified.

4. Put Your Affairs in Order

You may know where everything is and how you’ve got your affairs set up, but does your family? Would they, for instance, know where to find your bank or savings account numbers? Could they locate online memberships or subscriptions? Would they be aware of any intellectual properties you may own? In a recent study by willsandassets.co.uk, around 175,000 people have trouble tracking down assets listed in Wills.

Prepare a document that details where and how all of your affairs and assets are ordered and located. Include everything from insurances you pay to life assurance policies and online investments. Having reference to such a document will make things so much easier for those you leave behind.

5. Updates and Security

Having made a Will, the next step is to keep it secure and up to date. Just as you would with business records, it’s advisable not to keep Wills at home just in case they get lost or damaged.

Alternatives include leaving them with a solicitor or bank and, for added security, register Wills with Certainty which is the National Will Register endorsed by the Law Society.

Updates are recommended every three to five years, or whenever something changes such as marriage, divorce, births or changes to your finances like if you buy a house. You can’t change the wording or bequests in an existing Will, but you can add as many codicils as you like. Codicils must be witnessed and signed just as the original Will was, and serve as legally binding changes to your original Will.

No-one relishes the thought of their own mortality but having made a Will the resulting peace of mind lets you get on with life, knowing the future is taken care of for those you leave behind.

About Drew Davies
Drew writes for Unicef UK – find out more about leaving a legacy in your Will.