Your to-do list, before writing a Will

Writing a Will ensures that when you die, your estate is dealt with according to your wishes, making it one of the most important legal documents. By making a Will, you can ensure your property and affairs are dealt with in accordance with your wishes, and that any specific intentions you have for your home, money or possessions are carried through efficiently after your death and that your loved ones are provided for in a tax-efficient way.

So, how do you ensure you have thought of everything that needs to be included?  This article lists some areas for you to think about.

Topics to be answered in this article

Do you have any special wishes for your funeral?

It is important to think about if you would like to include your funeral wishes in your Will. Although your wishes are not legally binding, it will give your executors an indication of what your preference is in relation to your funeral. If you have not told anyone your wishes and your preference is not included in your Will then it will be for your close relatives to make a decision. 

Who should be your executor?

Your executor(s) are the people named in your Will who will administer your estate. They have the task of ensuring your are followed on your death. You can appoint almost anyone you want to do this job but you will need to make sure they are over 18, trustworthy and capable of carrying out their role of being an executor. If you want to appoint a professional executor, many organisations, including banks and solicitors, offer a professional Executorship service.

What are your assets?

Writing down all of your assets will give you a clear picture of what assets you own and how much your estate is worth

Common assets include:

  • Property  

  • Personal possessions

  • Bank accounts / building society accounts

  • Shares and investments

  • 2nd property (rental or holiday home)

  • Pension 

  • Life insurance

  • Death in service

  • Business assets

  • Foreign assets

  • Agricultural assets

  • Joint assets 

  • Trust assets 

  • Or, any other financial interests

Who do you want to leave those assets to?

Once you have considered all of your assets will help you think about what you want to do with these assets and what tax implications may occur on death. Think about what you would like to happen to these assets and who you would like these to go to on death. This might be a spouse, children, family or a charity. 

Digital and online presence after death

There is no legal definition of digital assets but common examples include social media accounts, Spotify, iTunes, funds held with PayPal, eBay, any other financial interest (such as Cryptocurrency or online banking services), and so on. Unless a record of these are noted, some assets may be missed or lost all together. Although, some digital assets are not necessarily owned. For example, data held in social media accounts may be owned by online service providers and an account may not be able to be deleted unless an executor has account login details. It is worth considering compiling a list of such assets that your executors can investigate which may be kept with your private papers.

Do you want to exclude someone from your Will?

Excluding someone from your will can cause a claim against your estate. It is worth considering their relationship to you and the implication of excluding them. 

Planning for Inheritance Tax (IHT)?

If your assets are over the Inheritance Tax (IHT) limits there are things that can be done to help reduce the amount of tax you pay on death. 

Appointing guardians in your Will

Who will look after your children is an important aspect for most parents and this can be included in your Will so that you have peace of mind as to who will have the legal authority to look after your children.

Do you have property or assets abroad?

Foreign assets are complex and usually will need to be dealt with separately to English assets. It may call for having more than one Will and it is important to ensure that, if this is the case, then both will are legally valid and work together to achieve your wishes. 

If you require any international legal documentation verifying, signing or compiling, you may need a Notary Public. The services of a Notary Public are crucial to international legal matters and we are delighted to be able to offer a full range of notary services through our fully qualified and highly experienced Notary Public, Isabel Figueiredo

Are there any specific items you want to give to someone?

If there are particular items that you would like to gift on your death you can itemise these in your Will or alternatively it may be possible to prepare a letter of wishes that will sit alongside your Will.

Business interests to consider?

If you have your own business, you may wish to consider what happens to the company on your death. You may want this to be dealt with separately in your Wills and you may also qualify for additional allowances for Inheritance Tax purposes.

Where should you store your Will?

Your Will is a very important legal document that should be kept safe and secure at all times. The original document will be needed when applying for a Grant of Probate. If you instruct solicitors to prepare your Will, they should also be able to store your Will. This is something that Goughs offers free of charge.

Should you make a Power of Attorney?

Whilst making a Will it is also important to consider making a Lasting Power of Attorney. Your Will is an important document that will help deal with your affairs when you die, but a Lasting Power of Attorney is a lifetime document that will allow you to appoint another person to help manage your affairs during your lifetime should you lose capacity and be unable to do so yourself. 

How can Goughs help?

Our Wills specialists have worked with thousands of clients to ensure their families are provided for and that their wishes are acted upon as planned. We have a team of Will writing specialists, who will guide you through your options, giving advice that’s specifically tailored to you and your circumstances.

It is also important to keep your Will updated to ensure it continues to reflect your circumstances. Any changes in your personal circumstances should trigger the review of your Will. At Goughs, we’re happy to look at your personal circumstances and assist you with amending your Will to ensure it’s still reflecting your wishes.

Get in touch today, by emailing in this form, or calling your local office.

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Author Bio

Samantha Pettersen

I have been practicing in Private Client law since 2018. I was introduced to this area of law during my training contract and I soon realised that this was the area of law that I had a real passion for. I qualified as a solicitor in January 2020 and was promoted to Associate Solicitor in October 2022.

I love the personal interaction with clients and being able to help them with difficult personal and emotional circumstances.

My progression includes being an affiliate member of STEP and a Longstanding Member of Association of Lifetime Lawyers.

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