1. Digital passwords
While bigger social media and online storage sites such as Facebook, Flickr and Dropbox are getting better at dealing with their users dying, others are still undeveloped in this area. Relatives will often want to be able access e-mail, bank accounts and, increasingly, social networking sites quickly following a death — not being able to do so can be very distressing. Being able to access a deceased loved one's e-mail account is especially important, as it often holds the key to unlocking the rest of their world.
Pets should be included in a will
People forget that pets are treated as possessions under the law, and should be included in a will. However, the person you leave them to isn’t obliged to accept them so don’t make the assumption that your loved ones, or nominated indidividuals, will care for them when you have gone. Some charities can help, for instance The Dogs Trust's Canine Card Scheme will care for and seek to rehome its members’ dogs after their death.
For parents making their will, how their children will be provided for is generally the single biggest priority – it’s ironic, then, that many forget the non-financial implications of their death. If one parent of a child dies (unless the courts have intervened), they will simply go to the other parent. But don't forget about what would happen to your children if both you and your child's other parent were to die. If you haven't specified guardians for your children then they will be at the mercy of the courts.
Many people who do have wills often fall at this hurdle. A will is not legally binding unless signed in the presence of two witnesses. When getting your will witnessed, it cannot be witnessed by a beneficiary (someone who you have left something to in your will) or their wife, husband or civil partner. If it is, then they will not be able to inherit. Be sure to use only the right people as witnesses.
As unbelievable as it sounds, people often write a will and then fail to let people know where the paper-based witnessed master version is actually kept. Forget PDFs and scanned versions, it’s the signed and witnessed paper copy of your will that counts, and if nobody can find it then it won’t be implemented. Witnessed master documents can be held by solicitors or will-registering businesses, such as the National Will Register or London Probate Department.
Thanks to Ian Gosling from will-creation tool Affio for sharing these tips.
- Yours Retirement Services in partnership with Key Retirement Solutions offers an estate-planning service including will writing. To find out more, click here or call 0808 156 9012 and one of our specialists will be happy to help.