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