A lengthy administrative process, disputes between family members and financial hardship are just some of the repercussions for families when a love one dies without making a Will. Despite the increased problems for loved ones left behind, it is estimated that 59%* of people in the UK still don’t have a Will.
So where to start? Private Client Solicitor, Hannah Welbourn discusses her top ten points to consider when making your Will in her latest article.
There is no template as what your Will should include as it will depend on your individual circumstances. For some it will be straightforward but for others such as those who have divorced, re-married, and have second families or for business owners or those with properties abroad, the process will be more complex but don’t let that put you off.
- Think carefully about who you want to be your executors. Your executors will be legally responsible for distributing your estate. It is important that you choose those who are willing and able to take on the task. It is recommended that you have at least two executors and that you discuss this beforehand to ensure they understand what will be involved before naming them. You can appoint family, friends, professionals, or a combination of them, as executors.
- Make a list of all of your major assets and the estimated value. This will include your home (or your share in it), other property or land, businesses, cars and other vehicles, items of particular value, such as jewellery, digital assets, savings and shares, life insurance policies, pensions and anything you own abroad. It is important that your solicitor has all of this information to ensure you are given the correct inheritance tax advice and your Will is structured in the most appropriate way.
- Consider the implications of inheritance tax. The threshold for paying inheritance tax is currently £325,000 but there are exemptions and reliefs available for particular types of gifts or property. There is no inheritance tax to pay on assets left to your spouse or civil partner or when leaving money to a charity. It may also be possible to protect assets from things such as future care fees whilst still providing for your loved ones.
- Make your solicitor aware of any liabilities. This should include any debts, including credit cards, loans and mortgages. It is also important that you keep a record of any gifts that you make above the available allowances.
- Decide who you want to inherit your estate? In addition to deciding who your estate should be left to and in what proportions, you may want to gift money or specific items to individuals. Make a list of the items or amounts of money and who you would like to receive it, providing the names and addresses of the beneficiaries and their relationship to you. Be aware that if you are not married or in a civil partnership then your partner will not automatically be entitled to benefit from your estate unless you have made a Will and included them as a beneficiary.
- Are any of your beneficiaries under 18 or vulnerable? If any of your beneficiaries are under 18, have a disability or are otherwise vulnerable, it may be advisable to set up a trust to help protect the assets that you are leaving to them.
- If you have children under 18, consider who you would like to look after them if you were not around. Appointing a guardian in your Will means that if there is no surviving parent, you are able to ensure your children are looked after by family members or friends that you trust. Needless to say, guardianship involves a lot of responsibility so you need to discuss this with those that you wish to appoint to before making your Will.
- Detail your wishes about funeral arrangements. Whilst these aren’t enforceable in law, it is helpful for your loved ones to be guided by your wishes at a difficult time.
- Review your Will at regular intervals or after major life events. For example getting married or entering into a civil partnership will automatically revoke an existing Will. If you don’t update your Will to take in to account your marriage or civil partnership you risk dying intestate. A divorce will also affect any Will made during the marriage so it is best practice to review your Will at least every five years to ensure that your Will still reflects your present wishes.
- Don’t put it off. Making a will is important, as leaving your estate to be divided under the intestacy rules rarely produces the results you would choose yourself.
Although it can be a difficult and emotional process, making a Will gives you peace of mind that your wishes will be fulfilled, that your assets will go to the right people and that loved ones are not having to take on any unnecessary burdens, pay more tax than they need to or end up in arguments about what you may or may not have intended.
To get started on making your Will today contact Hannah Welbourn on 01225 750 000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org we are here to help you.