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The good, the bad and the costly

Despite what seem like endless developments eroding away at the benefits of drawing up a will, there's too much at stake for people to be discouraged from having one, urge John Melville-Smith and James Ward

17 September 2015

Your will: the document that has the effect of directing all of your worldly goods upon your death to your chosen beneficiaries. During your lifetime, you can change your wishes and will as often as you like, as long as you are over the age of 18 and have the mental capacity to do so, with the final (valid) version coming into effect on death and taking precedence over all prior documents you might have drafted.

It might have been signed on the date of your death or several decades before. It might consist of some scribbles on the back of a beer mat, or it might be a complicated series of legal structures running over dozens of pages. It could have been prepared by you, in your own words, cribbed from precedents taken from the internet, or drafted by a professional will writer or solicitor.

In all cases, as long as it adheres to the Wills Act 1837, then it is a valid document. Howeve...

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