What should you consider when writing a will?

What Should You Consider When Writing a Will?

Wills

When writing a will, it’s important to be confident that you’ve covered everything that you need to. To ensure your will covers everything you need, we would advise speaking with a professional to give you the peace of mind that your family and wishes will be taken care of in the event of your death.

In this article, we’ll cover some of the main things that you need to include in your will. Obviously, everyone’s situation is different, therefore we cannot give you specific advice on everything that you’ll need to include – but this article covers the main areas that you’ll need to consider.

Executors

First things first, your will should set out who you’d like to be your executors. This is the person/persons who are legally responsible for collecting assets, paying creditors and making sure the terms of your Will are correctly carried out. You can also choose back up executors to act if your executors cannot or do not wish to act when needed.

Funeral wishes

Simple funeral requests can be detailed in your will, such as if you wish to be buried or cremated. To help your executors it is advisable to write a letter to go with the Will to go into more detail on what you want, such as where you want to be buried or cremated, songs, flowers etc. This can be then changed or updated at any time.

Have you thought about your children?

If you have any children under 18 it is important to consider who would be legally responsible for them if you die, one or two persons should be appointed. For unmarried fathers’, parental responsibility can be obtained via a parental responsibility agreement; being named by the mother on the child’s birth certificate or appointed in the mother’s Will.

Who will look after your pets?

I’m sure for some of you, your pets are extremely important to you so you may choose to nominate someone to take responsibility of any pets alive at the time of your death. Some people even choose to leave a monetary gift too on the condition of caring for your pets.

Do you wish to leave any gifts of money?

‘Pecuniary Legacy’ means gifts of money. Pecuniary Legacies are paid before the rest of your estate is distributed. The pecuniary legacy must be clearly described along with who it is for and whether it is to be paid on your death or on the subsequent death of your. Pecuniary Legacies of substantial monetary value would usually be left as a percentage of your estate rather than a fixed amount. Gifts of money should be included specifically in your Will, and they should not be included in an Expression of Wishes.

Do you wish to pass on any personal possessions?

Legacies are gifts of personal items, such as jewellery, that have sentimental value which may be left by means of a gift. The Executors, can be instructed to distribute your gifts according to a separate Expression of Wishes. An Expression of Wishes can be created at your leisure and amended whenever you want to without having to change your will. The Expression of Wishes should be signed and dated after the will, it should then be kept alongside your will.

Distribution of your estate

The residue is everything left in your estate after testamentary expenses such as gifts, debts and taxes have been paid. Your Will can leave everything to your spouse/partner but if they do not survive you by 30 days then your estate usually passes to your children or their children, or whoever you wish to inherit, if there are no children.

You can specify who you wish to inherit your estate when you and your spouse/partner both decease. Your estate can be split into equal shares or percentage shares to whoever you wish it to be distributed to. If you leave your estate to your children, you can specify the age in which they reach before having access to the money. If any of your beneficiaries were to pre-decease you then you can leave their share ‘per stirpes’ this means their share will pass equally to their own children if they were to have any. In the event that this share fails then it will continue to pass down the family tree.

Please remember that each person’s scenario is different, the above is an example of one way in which a will can be written. It is important to seek professional advice to ensure your will is tailored to suit your own personal situation.

Just in case

A disaster clause is a clause that can be written into your Will to provide for a ‘disaster scenario’ should none of your descendants survive to inherit your estate. This avoid intestacy, which is when the law decides who gets what from your estate as your will is no longer legally valid if all of your descendants were to pre-decease you.

Do you want to exclude anyone from making a possible claim on your estate?

If you are concerned that someone could make a claim on your will other than those you wish to benefit, then you can add a non-provision declaration in your will to show that you have made no provision for them. It is recommended that you write a letter to sit alongside your Will, to explain your reasons why, if in the event of an issue arising after your death.

Leaving money to charity

Another thing to consider is whether you’d like to leave any money to charity. It’s becoming more and more common for people to do this, so it’s definitely worth giving it some thought as you write your will.

There are some tax benefits to leaving money to charity, so it’s worth speaking to an estate planner about this if you are considering it. You could even choose some charities to form part of your disaster clause if all of your descendants were to pre-decease you.

Need expert help with writing your will? Speak to Face to Face Estate Planning, our team of friendly estate planners always take the time to work with you to make sure your will covers everything you need to give you real peace of mind.