There are a number of elements that should be included in your Will and some are more obvious than others. How your estate is to be divided up or stipulating funeral and burial arrangements seem like obvious choices. If you are unsure then this guide should hopefully provide you with a useful starting point but to ensure everything is covered correctly, we recommend instructing a solicitor to write your Will.
When writing a Will it is very important that you clearly state how your entire estate is to be divided up. This decision is entirely your own and your estate can be divided up between family, friends or even charities according to your exact wishes.
If you have two children, for example, you could divide your estate up proportionally by leaving a quarter of your estate each to your children and the remainder to any grandchildren. If you are married or in a civil partnership it is worthwhile discussing how you would both wish to divide your combined assets should one of you pass away first. In this eventuality, mutually agreeing how your estate should be shared can provide real clarity for the remaining partner. Also, if you are unmarried or not in a civil partnership you must clearly state in your Will that you wish your partner to inherit part or all of your estate. Without a Will your partner will not be able to inherit from your estate and your estate will be divided up in accordance to the laws on intestacy. It is advisable to plan for these instances as doing so can prevent financial issues for the remaining partner should you pass away.
Calculating the value of your estate should always be the first thing you do before writing a Will and should allow you to gain a better picture of your estate’s true value. It is important that you get your assets valued prior to estimating the total value of your estate because it can vary dramatically for certain assets like your property or your pension.
It is also important to recognise and account for any outstanding debts that will be left behind. Together with your funeral expenses, debts are deducted from the total value of your estate after you have passed away.
Some people decide to leave a portion of their estates value to a designated charity. This is referred to as a legacy and is used to donate money to a charity of your choosing through one of three methods. A residual legacy states what proportion of your estate is to donated, a pecuniary legacy is a defined amount of money and a specific legacy is an asset like your home or vehicle. When writing a legacy into your Will you must include the charities full name, address and registered charity number otherwise the legacy may not be valid and may not reach your charity as you would have wished.
Selecting your children’s guardian(s)
An often overlooked section of Wills is the appointment of guardian(s). If you have children under the age of 18 it is wise to select one or two guardians in the unfortunate eventuality that both parents should pass away somehow. Additionally, you can also leave maintenance payments to your children to ensure they and their new guardians can afford to live the life you want them to have after your passing.
Executors perform an important role after your death and it is their responsibility to administer the estate, this involves collecting the estate and distributing its value in accordance with your Will. It is advisable that you select a solicitor for this role as it can be a stressful task but you can list beneficiaries or friends to execute your Will also.
Rollingsons are respected Will drafting lawyers with the skills and experience required to manage the complicated process of writing and executing Wills. For more information or to arrange an initial consultation, please contact us on 0207 7611 4848.