Expert advice on taking control of your estate
A Will is probably one of the most important documents you will ever complete during your lifetime. Making a Will allows you to properly and appropriately plan your finances and property after you have passed away.
With death, your financial responsibilities do not end, they just change and having a Will in place is the best way to prepare for this.
What happens if I die without having a Will in place?
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.
- 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, by:
- Choosing who will act as your executors and administer your estate.
- Choosing who will inherit and on what terms.
- Planning in a tax efficient way for the benefit of your family.
- Appointing guardians for your children’s welfare.
- Making provision for a second family, if you have one.
- Making proper provision for any business interests you have.
- Including Trusts to provide flexible inheritance.
- Delaying your children’s inheritance beyond 18 years of age, if you feel this is necessary.
- Including rights of occupation in a house.
Making a Will
The main issues to consider when making a Will are:
- 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 the age of 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
Executors are the people appointed to administer your affairs after your 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.
Other important factors to consider in relation to your executors are:
- In straightforward cases, trusted relatives or family friends are suitable to appoint as your executors.
- 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 a Will
We will store your Will safely for you free of charge, and we will remind you every five years of the need to review your Will.
It is also important to let your executors and any other relevant close family members know where your Will is being stored.
Our team of specialists
- Prepare over 1,000 Wills for people of all ages every year;
- Deal with the administration of many high value estates and Inheritance Tax issues;
- Advise and assist executors appointed to administer the estate of a deceased friend or relative; and
- Help the family of those who die without a Will to sort out the consequences of intestacy.
Our team offer a choice of ways to help you when making a Will, according to how much you want to spend and how much support you would like.
Also, whilst Wills are quite personal documents and many of our clients prefer having face-to-face contact, we are able to speak to you regarding the creation (or updating) of a Will over the phone or other electronic means (e.g. a video call). We will talk through your circumstances and then draft the Will, which would then be sent out to you by e-mail or post for your approval.
Please call us on 0800 024 1976 or contact us via our online enquiry form to discuss how we can help you make a Will that meets your particular requirements.
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