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Things to consider when writing a Will
- how much is your Estate (everything you own) worth?
- who do you want to inherit your property?
- what should happen to your Estate when you die?
- how can you protect yourself if your circumstances change?
- how can you protect your children or any vulnerable dependents?
During your lifetime, you’re likely to acquire savings and investments, a car, furniture and many personal possessions. You may also have a house, a business (or a share of one) or even property abroad.
Together, the things you own are known as your Estate and your Will can state who should receive these when you die.
A professionally written Will takes a lot of careful thought, but it’s equally important to decide who should look after your Estate after you’ve gone. You can then be sure that the wishes you’ve expressed in your Will are carried out in full. That’s why you need to appoint trusted people known as Executors to administer your Will.
If you have young children, you are likely to be concerned about who would take care of them in the unlikely event that you were to die while they are still dependent on you. So it’s reassuring to know that you can appoint official Guardians for your children in your Will.
Trusts and trustees
Trust Wills are commonly used but few people really understand what a Trust is. In short, a Trust exists when one or more people look after property for the benefit of one or more other people.
The main purpose of your Will is to ensure your loved ones are provided for and inherit those things you have worked hard for. You will need to think carefully about who should receive what and how your Estate should be divided.
Gifts including donations to charity
When your Will is being written, you can make three types of gifts:
- Specific gifts: Gifts of items e.g. giving jewellery to your daughter or your golf clubs to your nephew.
- Pecuniary gifts: Gifts of money e.g. £100 to each godchild or £1,000 to your favourite charity.
- Residuary gifts: Your Residuary Estate is what is left after all specific pecuniary gifts been made and any outstanding debts have been paid.
You can specify your funeral wishes in your Will. However, Wills often aren’t discovered until after the funeral. Even if your Will is discovered before then, your loved ones aren’t legally obliged to follow your wishes.
Letter of wishes
A Letter of Wishes, also known as an Expression of Wishes, is a letter written by you and kept with your Will, or given to your Executors or Trustees for safe-keeping. A Will can become a public document if Probate is required on the Estate, whereas a Letter of Wishes is written as a private document.
In English law, pets are part of your Estate, so your Will should specify what you would like to happen to your pets after you pass away. For more information see How to provide for pets in your Will.
A Will is one of the most important legal documents you will ever sign. For complete details see making a Will.
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Disclaimer: The material provided on this website does not constitute financial advice and is for information purposes only, the information provided is subject to change without notice.