When you are having your Will drawn up, there is more to think about than simply whom you wish to leave your estate to. Below is a brief checklist of issues to consider when making your Will.
If you want to, you can include your funeral wishes in your Will so that your loved ones know what arrangements you would like. This will not be legally binding, but it can be reassuring for people to know that they are carrying out your wishes and can avoid disagreements.
You should identify all of your assets and estimate the approximate value of your estate. If it exceeds the Inheritance Tax threshold of £325,000, you should consider taking professional advice about the potential ways of legally reducing the Inheritance Tax liability that your estate will face.
When going through your assets, you may find that you have certain items that you want particular people to inherit, so you should make a note of these so that they can be specified in your Will.
If you have more complicated assets such as a business or overseas investments or property, it is advisable to seek expert advice when making decisions about the provisions of your Will.
Who will inherit?
You will need to think about who will inherit your estate and how you will pass it to them. You can leave specified sums of cash or a share in the residue of your estate. The specific cash gifts will take priority over the gift of the residue. The residue is the value of your estate after the payment of specific or cash gifts, funeral costs, administration costs and any liabilities.
If you are considering leaving a close family member out of your Will, it is recommended to seek legal advice. The reason for this is that they may be entitled to bring a legal claim against your estate if they are dependent upon you.
Appointing executors and trustees
You will appoint executors in your Will to deal with the winding up of your estate. You should give some careful thought to your choice of individual, as this role is often time-consuming and can be complex. It involves valuing and collecting in your assets, calculating and paying Inheritance Tax, dealing with income tax and submitting tax returns, clearing and selling any property and preparing estate accounts.
If you are leaving any property or money in trust, you will also need to select trustees to manage the trust.
In the event that you do not have anyone who is willing and able to take on these roles, you can appoint a professional, generally an experienced trust and estates solicitor, to act on your behalf.
If you have children aged under 18, you should also use your Will to appoint one or more guardians for them. This means that, if anything happens to you, your choice of guardian will be able to take over your children’s care without having to apply to the court.
Storing your Will
Once you have had your Will drawn up, you should ensure that it is stored safely. A receipt should be put with your important papers so that your family will know where it is.
This information is for guidance only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking full legal advice on specific facts and circumstances