Wills in the modern world

Despite recent test cases, including one in Australia where a will written on an ipad was deemed legally valid, in England wills still need to be printed and signed in accordance with the Wills Act 1837.

However, a will has to reflect the requirements of the twenty-first century. For example, if you have a Facebook account, you need to have appointed representatives authorised to shut down your account after death. A will can record who these representatives, your executors and trustees will be. Ideally you should state in your will what you wish to happen to all your social media accounts.

If you are a business owner, you need to ensure you have the correct clauses in your will to reflect any shareholders or partnership agreement you have. Furthermore, if you do not give your representatives the power to manage your business then they cannot oversee your beneficiaries’ interests. For example, your executors could be rushed into selling your business or shares at an undervalue, when market conditions are not right, or under pressure from other shareholders.

It is essential that you choose the right executors to ensure that they carry out your wishes. Your spouse or partner can be an executor, but if your situation is more complicated, or if you have young children, then you need to an appoint additional executor.  You can name a solicitor to act in this regard.

Whilst Inheritance tax allowances will not decrease following the recent election, it is important to structure your will to ensure that each spouse has enough assets in his or her name to claim such allowances. It is also important to be aware of all the tax effects of succession planning, whether in your will or during your lifetime. The sooner you start planning the better, without affecting your lifestyle of course!

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