Expert advice on taking control of your estate

It’s often tempting to put off making a will, but if you die without leaving a will your estate is subject to the rules of intestacy, under which:

  • Your whole estate may not go to your surviving spouse or civil partner – they may have to share it with your children, parents or siblings
  • If you are living together but not married/in a civil partnership and die intestate, your partner will not automatically benefit

If you make a will you take control of your own affairs:

  • You choose who will act as your executors and administer your estate
  • You choose who will inherit and on what terms
  • You have the chance to plan in a tax efficient way for the benefit of your family
  • You can appoint guardians for your children’s welfare
  • You can make provision for a second family if you have one
  • If you have business interests you can make proper provision for them
  • You can include trusts to provide flexible inheritance
  • You can delay children’s inheritance beyond 18
  • You can include rights of occupation in a house

Issues to consider before you make a will

  • What’s the likely overall value of your estate? – this determines if your estate will be liable for inheritance tax
  • Who would you like to appoint as executors to your will?
  • Do you wish to be buried or cremated?
  • Do you want to leave gifts of money and specific items?
  • Do you want to make arrangements for children under 18?
  • What do you want to do with your “residuary estate” – that’s everything left after any specific gifts
  • Do you want to provide for alternative residuary beneficiaries if those you appoint die before you?

Requirements for executors in making a will

These are the people appointed to administer your affairs after death and they have to be expressly appointed within your will:

  • You can appoint as many executors as you want but a maximum of four will be authorised to act at any one time
  • In practice, four is the sensible maximum
  • In theory, one is enough but problems can arise if the executor dies or is ill
  • In straightforward cases, trusted relatives or family friends are suitable
  • Make sure your executors have agreed to act
  • If the estate is complex or there are potential family disputes, it may be sensible to appoint a professional executor
  • Nelsons can act as professional executors

Burial or cremation?

  • You don’t have to state how you want your body to be disposed of but you can if you want to
  • We would recommend any detailed wishes regarding your funeral are communicated separately to your executors

Guardians for your children?

  • To allow for both parents dying at the same time, you should specify one or more people to act as a guardian for your children
  • You should agree details with the other parent, and make sure you have the agreement of the people you are appointing as guardians

After making your will

  • Nelsons will store it safely for you free of charge
  • We will remind you every five years of the need to review your will
  • Make sure your executors and any other relevant close family members know where your will is stored

Please contact us to discuss how we can help you make a will that meets your particular requirements.

Find out how Nelsons can help you. Contact our friendly team for a guaranteed fast response.

For advice and support 0800 024 1976