What Should be Included when Making a Will?
If you’re like nearly 60% of adults in the UK and you haven’t made a Will, you probably know the legal reasons for making one, particularly if you have children. Rather than tell you why you need to make a Will, we’ll discuss some of the things you need to consider putting in your Will when you make it.
Guardians for Your Children – If you die before your children reach 18, they’ll need someone to be their legal guardian. This is one of the reasons that making a Will is so important if you have children. Make sure you think carefully about who you want to look after your children if you can’t.
Talk to the prospective guardian about whether they would be happy to care for your children if you can’t, and make sure you understand what their views are on things that may affect your children. This should include education, medical treatments, religious beliefs, views on vegetarianism or veganism and anything else that could impact the way your children will be raised. This is important and will make sure that your views are aligned with theirs.
Your Assets – Assets are anything that belongs to you. This includes any property, jewellery, your car, your TV, pets and even your clothes. You can decide who gets your assets in your Will. See Gifts below.
Gifts – You may decide that you have something specific that you want to give to someone. If you specify this in your Will, it will happen. This can be particularly useful if you want to leave a piece of jewellery or antique to someone because of a connection during your lifetime or even leave a monetary gift to someone. Your Will is the best place to do this.
Decide on Your Executors – An Executor is responsible for collecting in your assets after your death, settling your liabilities, organising your funeral and distributing your Estate in accordance with the provisions of your Will. Knowing who will be the Executor of your Will is really important because they will make sure your wishes are carried out if you were to die. When you make this decision there are a few things you need to consider.
You will need to have a chat with whoever you want to be your Executor and ask them if it’s something they would mind taking on. Some people really won’t want to be an Executor and will have to complete the process of “renouncing” (resign) themselves from their role as Executor. This can be an annoyance particularly if they had no intention of being your Executor.
If an Executor dies before you or cannot act for another reason such as mental incapacity, this can cause complications so choosing someone who is older than you, such as a parent, could make the process more complicated than necessary, particularly if the other Executors you choose renounce their role. It is therefore sensible to appoint additional replacement Executors if your original Executors can’t act for any reason.
Funeral Wishes – You can use your Will to leave instructions about your funeral. This can include information about whether you want to be buried or cremated and even down to details about what music you would like to be played.
What about Property?
Many couples will own their properties as Joint Tenants. This means that when one of them dies, the whole property will automatically pass over to their partner when they die, regardless of what you put in your Will.
But this may not be the best way to jointly own your property. The other option is owning a property as Tenants in Common. This means you each have a separate share of the property and you can leave your share to whoever you choose when you die, under the terms of your Will.
This can be beneficial if one of you needs to pay care fees at a later date as at least one half of the property can potentially be protected by incorporating some additional provisions into your Wills.
Our Wills and Trusts Solicitors offer initial legal advice and can help you if you’re not sure how you currently own your property and you want to change it.
Do I Need a Mirror Will?
Mirror Wills are used by many couples whose wishes ‘mirror’ each other. However, some couples may want to leave things to different people and this is more common because of the rise in blended families.
Anyone who has children from a first marriage will probably want to protect their assets so their children can inherit from their Will, rather than their Estate just being passed to their new partner.
You should make sure you get independent legal advice from a specialist Wills and Trust Solicitor about what to do with your Will before you make one, to make sure you protect the important people in your life.
Making a Will is really important. It makes sure that everyone knows your wishes after you die and that they are put into a legal document that has to be followed.
Making a Will with a Solicitor isn’t expensive particularly when compared to the costs and trouble not making a Will can cause for the loved ones you leave behind.
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