By January 15, 2015 Read More →

Why home business owners and freelancers should write a will

Write a will

A helpful guest post today from freelance SEO consultant Drew Davies.

Writing a will can be an intimidating job, but it’s crucial when you run your own business:

Do you have a will?

The question alone was enough to send a chill down my spine.

It didn’t help that I work for myself.

Being a freelancer means you’re constantly thinking about your own survival.

Making sure you have food on the table, creating plans to protect against the future, doing anything and everything to keep your business, and your livelihood, alive.

To consider your own mortality goes against the grain – to imagine a time when all of it is over, finished.

Then, last year, my Grandfather died, and I saw how his preparations made things that much easier for my Grandmother. He’d left information about where he kept important records and how he did the household admin, and I realised that putting things in order like this was a gesture of love, rather than just a scary process that made you confront your own mortality.

So, recently, I started to investigate how to write a will. I had to spread my research over several days, because my stomach would start to churn after a few minutes. And it was daunting to talk to a lawyer for the first time in my life.

I’m most comfortable doing things on the Web, so when I found an online willwriting service that allowed you to fill in your details online and get it looked over by a will specialist once you’d finished, I signed up.

(Will writing is unregulated, so if you decide to use a willwriting firm, look for one that belongs to The Institute of Professional Willwriters). You may also want to talk to a solicitor about what will happen to your business, as it’s better to pose questions to a professional upfront.

Write a will - filling it inSo I’d bought a will. But now I actually had to fill it in. Some things stumped me: I didn’t know what an executor was – and I should probably stop pronouncing it ‘executioner’. (An executor is the person/people who carry out the wishes you’ve expressed in your will after your death).

I always thought it had to be a solicitor, but you can also have family or friends as executors, which will save paying more fees). It might be prudent to use a combination of both, especially if there’s anything complicated in your will, like tax issues and trusts).

When you write a will you need the full name and address of anyone you want to leave something to. And make sure you note down their full name, not a nickname, and include any middle names.

In terms of your business, it might be a good idea to create a plan to help keep things running after your death. If you don’t leave one, the executors/administrators of your estate will make all the business decisions, regardless of their qualifications or experience.

It’s also important to note that there might be tax consequences that will need to be dealt with before the estate administration can be finalised. Ask your solicitor for more information.

I thought that leaving a legacy to a charity would be complicated (full disclosure: I am working on a project with Unicef, but no doubt you’ll have your own favourite charities such as Barnardo’s and World Animal Protection).

Actually it’s easy, you just have to name them in your will as you would any other beneficiary. And take care here too to get the name right (especially if there are charities with similar names), and include the charity registration number. If you let the charity know, they can sometimes help and give you additional information.

Write a will - storageThe last step is storing the will. You can keep it yourself – but you run the risk of losing it, or it being destroyed. Your solicitor or bank can store it for you (there might well be a fee at a bank).

The option that looks most interesting to me is storing it with the probate office for £20 (England & Wales only). And it only takes a minute to register your Will at Certainty, the National Will Register and will search service, which is endorsed by the Law Society.

Do you have a will? I’m going to be asking my friends and other freelancers, because, having done it, I realise it’s not really that difficult. I’m an organised person in both life and business, and now I know I’ll be organised post-life too. In hindsight, I found it was a cathartic and life-affirming process to write a will.

Have you done yours?

Posted in: Family

1 Comment on "Why home business owners and freelancers should write a will"

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  1. Good post, Drew, thanks. I know what you mean by the churning stomach. Contemplating our mortality in the abstract is one thing, actually making provision for a time we won’t be alive is quite anther!

    Our wills are stored by a company called Redstone Wills, which is associated with the willwriter we originally used. We were pleasantly surprised to discover recently that they don’t charge to amend wills. As time passes you will inevitably need to update your will to reflect changing circumstances.