Many people put off writing a Will because they fear it is going to be a long and complicated process. But with a bit of planning and preparation, the process can be quite straight forward, especially when using an online Wills service.
So to help you prepare, we have written a list of things to think about before you start your Will.
- Value of your estateMake a simple list of everything you have that makes up your “estate”. Your estate includes property and housing, bank and building society accounts, investments, insurance policies, shares, cars, household possessions and personal possessions. It is also important to know whether or not your estate is worth more than the tax-free allowance, or “nil rate band” (details of the current allowance, which is £325,000, can be found at www.hmrc.gov.uk).
- Who would you like to appoint as executors to your Will?Executors are individuals or organisations that administer your estate when you die. This is one of the most important decisions when you create your Will. Executors can be:
- Trusted individuals
- If married or in a civil partnership, your spouse/ partner
- A specialist organisation that acts as an executor
- A solicitor
You should name a person you trust, who will see your estate is settled efficiently and quickly. Often a spouse or civil partner, an adult child (aged over 18) or close relative or friend is appointed as an executor. We recommend, however, that you appoint at least two executors, and in some cases (for example, where your estate includes a property or you create a trust in your Will), two executors will be necessary. If your financial affairs are complex, we suggest that one of those should be a professional executor, such as a solicitor or trust corporation. However, you may not name more than four executors in total.
In a MyLawyer Will, we also give you the option of appointing substitute executors in case any of the original executors that you appoint either die before you or are otherwise unable or unwilling to act as an executor after your death.
- Do you have children under 18?You should specify one or more people to act as a guardian in case you and your spouse (or the child’s other parent) die before the child reaches the age of 18. You should agree with the child’s other parent who will be guardian, and ensure you have the agreement of the person(s) you are appointing. A MyLawyer Will also gives you the option of appointing substitute guardians if you wish to name alternate people who can act in the event those you originally selected are unable or unwilling to do so.
- Leaving gifts of money and specific itemsDo you wish to leave gifts of money or specific items (e.g. your car, your CD collection, your wedding ring)? If you are married or in a civil partnership or your estate is over the tax-free allowance, you’ll need to think about whether you wish to make these gifts subject to tax or free of tax.
- Personal possessions (“chattels”)These are things like your clothes, furniture and other possessions not already given as a specific item. You’ll need to decide whether you want these to form part of the remainder of your estate or be given to your spouse/partner, children, or someone you wish to name.
- Remainder of your estate (“residuary estate”)For many people, this will be the bulk of their estate, and there are a variety of options for giving it away, which, for someone married or in a civil partnership or for an unmarried person in a long term relationship, include giving just the income of the estate to your spouse/partner and holding the rest to be given to others after your spouse/partner passes away.
- Alternate residuary beneficiariesYou can nominate alternate residuary beneficiaries (a “beneficiary” is a person who receives a gift from your Will) in case none of those you previously named qualify for their gifts.
- Do you wish to be buried or cremated?Whilst you do not have to state in your Will how you wish your body to be disposed of when you die, you may do so if you wish. Any special requests can be inserted into a letter of wishes, and you can also use this letter to state how you wish your body to be disposed of instead of stating it in your Will.
- PetsIf you have any pets, do you want your spouse/ partner to look after them when you pass away, and do you wish to leave any money to the person taking charge of your pet(s) to assist with their upkeep?
Now you have worked out how you would like your estate to be distributed, find out what is the right Will for your circumstances; click here to answer our quick questionnaire.