Making a Will - Gifts to Family and Friends Explained

Author:
Stephanie Parry
Private Client Solicitor
Date:
23/07/2019

The law in England and Wales gives a person who is making a Will the freedom to leave gifts to any friends or family members of their choosing. There is no restriction on the size of these gifts, so one person could be bequeathed a substantially larger gift than another beneficiary of the Will.

With that in mind, it’s worth considering how your Will is likely to be perceived by those you leave behind. Some may view the size of the gift as a measure of what you thought of them, so it may therefore be wise to ensure a Will includes an explanation of why a certain gift has been given.

Are you acknowledging the depth of your friendship? Does one person need greater financial support than another? Are you gifting a certain item because it’s worth a lot financially, or because the beneficiary will appreciate it due to a shared interest or its sentimental value?

By clarifying your motivations in your Will, there will be less room for argument or resentment among your loved ones, such as those whose gifts are worth a relatively small amount in monetary terms.

For initial legal advice get in touch with our Wills and Trusts Solicitors.

Call us on 08002605010 or request a callback and we will help you.

What Type of Gifts Can I Leave?

Again, you have lots of freedom. You may choose to leave all or some of your Estate to a loved one, once any outstanding debts have been paid off. Alternatively, you may gift a friend or relative a specific sum of money, or a particular item.

This doesn’t have to be an item that’s high-value, but as we said earlier, it’s worth stating in your Will why you are leaving them this particular possession. If it is an item of sentimental rather than financial value or an heirloom, clarifying your reasons could help you make sure they don’t sell or discard it and that it stays in your family.

Can My Friends or Family Challenge My Will?

The nature of leaving gifts to friends and family members in a Will means some could feel envious or unhappy about gifts that have been left to other beneficiaries. And some may feel deeply aggrieved if they’ve been disinherited completely and left nothing.

So it’s worth bearing in mind that while you have the freedom to choose your beneficiaries, and the right to exclude certain family members altogether, even children, there’s always a chance your Will could be challenged later on.

In order to stop people bring a claim against your Estate following your death, it’s a good idea to explain your reasons for leaving certain people out, or giving them a relatively modest gift in comparison to others. If you wish to avoid an awkward conversation before your death, a letter explaining the reasons behind your decisions can be included with your Will.

We’d recommend taking legal advice from our Wills and Trusts Solicitors before making a Will. Our expertise in this area can help to reduce the risk of your Will being successfully challenged, and ensure your Will reflects your wishes and provides for those you want to look after when the time comes.

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