Making a Will
Creating and updating your will is an essential step to ensuring that your estate is dealt with as you wish it to be upon death and in the most tax efficient way.
If you do not leave a will your estate may be distributed according to the law rather than your wishes. This means that if you are not married or in a civil partnership, your partner will not inherit automatically.
By making a will you can also maximise Inheritance Tax reliefs and exemptions if your estate is worth more than the Inheritance Tax threshold.
What to consider when making a will
It may be helpful to draw up a list of your assets, any joint assets and those of your spouse or partner in their sole name. You should consider who you want to inherit those assets. If you wish to give a specific item such as a picture, piece of jewellery or furniture to a specific person, list these individually giving as much detail as you can. If you have children who are now adults and wish to give differing amounts to children, outlining why in a Letter of Wishes may avoid later disputes. You may also wish to consider giving a legacy to a charity.
If you have children under the age of 18 you will need to consider appointing a guardian in your Will. You should discuss your choice of guardian with your spouse or partner and with the person you wish to appoint. You can make provisions for step-children and/or children who live with you as if they are your children, such as children from a partner’s previous relationship. If you do not make a Will, these children may not inherit anything. If you wish to give children differing inheritances, e.g. because one child has disabilities which limit their future earning potential, you can draw up a Letter of Wishes which explain your decision and may help avoid later disputes. You will also need to decide at what age children should inherit. Under intestacy laws, children inherit at the age of 18, but it may be appropriate to delay this until later.
Executors might be a family member, trusted friend or a professional person such as a solicitor. Normally at least two executors are appointed. Appointing a friend or family member along with a professional person is generally recommended as the friend or family member will understand your wishes and a professional person can ensure that executing the Will is not subject to unnecessary delays.
What happens if you don’t make a will? Elizabeth Whitaker discusses:
Our wills, probate and trusts team is here to help.
Please call us to find out how we can help. We can talk on the phone or arrange a meeting where we can discuss your options and give you a clear idea of timeframes and costs.
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