What Should you Include in Your Will?

Nadia Rimmer
Author:
Nadia Rimmer
Associate Solicitor Advocate
Date:
24/02/2022

If you’re thinking about writing a Will, you might be unsure of where to start. There’s a lot to consider and it can feel overwhelming. You may be worried about leaving something out by mistake and this is only natural.

As Wills and Trusts Solicitors, we have a good knowledge of what should be included in a Will to ensure your loved ones are left feeling confident in carrying out your wishes.

We’ll talk through each aspect to consider in detail in this article. If you’re starting the process of creating a Will and would like further information, get in touch with our expert Wills and Trusts Team.

Call us on 0808 239 4634 or request a callback

Appointing Guardians

If you have children or pets, you’ll of course want to make sure they’ll be looked after in the event of your death. By setting out a guardian or guardians in your Will, you’ll have peace of mind that your dependents will be taken care of by the people you’ve chosen and trust.

This is really important if you have children. If you die without specifying a guardian in your Will, the family Courts will decide who take on this role, and this might not be the person you would have picked.

Before selecting a guardian or guardians, you should make sure they’d be comfortable taking on this responsibility. A Wills and Trusts Solicitor can help you navigate this process and make sure your wishes are clearly laid out.

Listing Executors

An Executor is the person who will be responsible for administering your Estate when you die, they will:

  • collect money owed to your Estate;
  • deal with Inheritance Tax forms and payments;
  • value and liquidate (sell) your assets;
  • pay off any outstanding debts;
  • distribute what’s left after all outgoing costs have been paid.

There are no rules on who you pick as an Executor to carry out these tasks. It could be a family member or friend, or a paid professional like a Solicitor or accountant. But as with appointing a guardian, it’s important to make sure the person you’re planning to name as Executor is able to take on this responsibility.

A Wills and Trusts Solicitor can help take some of the pressure off Executors by handling the complex paperwork while they deal directly with your loved ones. This can also lessen the risk of Executor Disputes which can bring additional stress at what is already an incredibly difficult time.

Stating Beneficiaries

Beneficiaries are the people who will benefit from your Estate once the Executor has completed the process of Probate. You can choose anyone to be a beneficiary in your Will, even if they’re also named as an Executor.

If you die without stating your Beneficiaries in your Will, the Rules of Intestacy will apply, which will decide who benefits from your Estate for you. The Rules of Intestacy will favour spouses and blood-related family members.

This means that if you’re not married and your partner isn’t listed as a beneficiary when you die, they won’t be automatically entitled to any of your Estate so it’s really important that you clarify this in your Will.

The best way to avoid issues with intestacy is to seek legal advice from a Wills and Trusts Solicitor to make a valid Will that considers all of your assets.

Leaving Gifts

Leaving a gift in your Will is a great way to give support to the charities that mean something to you. But there are certain things to consider before deciding to go down this route, these include:

  • Changes in value – inflation increases could mean you donate less than you intended, you can include a clause in your Will to protect against this.
  • Potential confusion – if you’d like your gift to be used in a specific way by a charity, it’s important to make sure they’re aware of these instructions. A Solicitor can help you make sure your wishes are displayed in clear language in your Will.
  • Is the charity legitimate? Before leaving a gift to a charity, it’s worth checking the Charity Commission to see if they’re registered. You can still leave a gift to a non-registered charity, but we’d recommend doing research to make sure they’re trustworthy.
  • Inheritance tax – gifts to charity are inheritance tax-free. In some cases, donating to a charity can reduce your overall inheritance tax paid but this will largely depend on the amount donated and the value of your Estate.

You might also decide to leave a gift to a family member or friend, often people will leave a meaningful item as a gift in their Will. A legal expert can help you clearly express your wishes on this to avoid any potential disputes.

If you choose to leave a gift to a child (under 18), it will be looked after by your chosen Executors until the child becomes an adult. The Executors will be responsible for deciding how to safekeep the gift, this might include transferring it to the child’s parent or guardian.

We understand the challenges that can crop up when making a Will and we’ll use our knowledge and experience to make sure the process is taken care of quickly and easily. Our team can tailor your Will to meet all your needs, get in touch today.

FAQ's

Is there a Minimum Amount you can Leave in a Will?

There is no minimum amount you can leave in a Will. But if you intend to leave a number of small gifts, you may wish to consider the implications this may have on your Executor.

For example, if you make gifts to Beneficiaries your Executor does not know, you will need to ensure there are clear addresses or connections for these people as it may take your Executor time and further expenses to locate these Beneficiaries. Tracing Beneficiaries can become costly and this may be disproportionate to the gift that has been left. As such, it is worth considering this further when deciding to make small value gifts to Beneficiaries.

Can you Include Funeral Wishes in a Will?

You can include funeral wishes in your Will but this is completely optional.

Leaving wishes for your funeral can offer relief for your family and loved ones as it will take away the worry of making decisions on your behalf when it comes to making funeral plans. You could include things like:

  • music you’d like to have played;
  • who you’d like to arrange the funeral;
  • whether you want a burial or cremation;
  • if you want your funeral to be religious.
Is there a Limit to How Many Executors you can Have?

We wouldn’t recommend naming more than four Executors. If there is a Trust to administer, at least two Executors will be needed.

It’s always a good idea to appoint substitute Executors in case your chosen Executor decides they don’t want to carry out this role or they die before you.

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