When making a will you will need to have certain information about your estate ready. You will also need to have thought about what you want to include in your will.
To assist you, we have put together this checklist which will help you understand the kind of decisions you will need to make and what information you should start preparing.
If you are not sure about anything, you can speak to a member of our team and we will answer all of your questions. We are qualified lawyers specialising in Wills and estate planning matters.
1. Value your Estate
It is important to have an idea of what your Estate may be worth by drawing up a list of your assets and liabilities. This can be useful when seeking advice regarding inheritance tax and also when trying to determine whom you wish to benefit from your Estate.
Assets that typically make up your Estate include the following:
- Your home and any additional properties
- Bank or building society accounts
- National savings and investments such as premium bonds or certificates
- Life assurance
- Pension funds that include a lump sum payment on death
- Investments such as stocks and shares or investment trusts
- Business interests
- Foreign property
- Foreign accounts
- Motor vehicles
- Jewellery, antiques, and other personal belongings
- Furniture and other household contents
Liabilities may include the following:
- Credit cards
- A bank overdraft
- Equity release or lifetime mortgage
It is important to note that the value of all of your assets can change over time. It is also important to note that some of your assets you may not hold in your sole name. For example, property you may hold with a spouse or partner, and this could be held as joint tenants or tenants in common. Depending on how you own the property may determine whether or not you can bequeath your share by Will.
2. Decide how you wish to divide your estate
It is important that you are absolutely clear in what you want to happen to your entire estate. It is important to think about the following:
- Who do you want to benefit from your Will?
- Are there any specific gifts of money or personal items you wish to make to particular people?
- Is there anyone who is financially dependent upon you?
- Do you wish to give someone security in residence? (such as living in your home for a period of time)
- Do you have children under the age of 18?
- Do you need to appoint guardians for any children under the age of 18?
- Are your children or any of your beneficiaries particularly vulnerable and require additional provision in your Will, such as a Trust?
- Where is the residue of your Estate to go? (this is any property or money left over after paying inheritance tax, funeral and administration expenses).
- What would you want to happen if any of your beneficiaries were to die before you?
- Do you wish for any of your beneficiaries to inherit at a particular age?
3. Do you wish to leave a donation to charity
Should you wish to leave a gift to a charity within your Will, you must be sure to include the charity’s full name, address and registered charity number. Incorrect information or poor drafting of such a clause may mean that your chosen charity does not receive the gift.
4. Choose who you wish to act as your Executors
Executors are the people who have the legal authority to deal with all administrative tasks within your Estate and distribute your Estate in accordance with your wishes. Your executors can also be beneficiaries of your Will
You may wish to appoint an executor to act for you in the event of your death and a substitute executor in the event that your first appointed executor was to die before you or be unable to take up this appointment.
5. Write your Will
You can do this several ways:
Our advice would always be to seek the advice and services of a qualified Lawyer (for example a Solicitor or Chartered Legal Executive). There are many law firms to choose from both online and on the high street, however we suggest that you speak to a Lawyer who specialises in Wills and Probate to ensure that they are up to date with the law and regulated to provide you with this advice. Always check that the firm that you are instructing is regulated with the relevant professional body, such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Cilex Regulation or Law Society.
Professional Will Writers:
Will Writers are not qualified lawyers and may not be regulated. If you decide to use one, first check their credentials, whether or not they have insurance in place and/or any regulation to protect you should anything go wrong in the future. You should also check that they can prove they are able to provide you with professional legal advice.
Some charities and specific campaigns offer free Will drafting services to encourage Will making and charitable legacies. If there is a particular charity you favour, check whether they provide this service.
Some banks offer will writing services and advice about estate planning.
6. Sign your Will
You must sign your Will in the presence of two adult independent witnesses for it to be valid. The rules surrounding correct signing and execution of a Will are very strict and if this is not carried out correctly, your Will may not be valid. In addition to having witnesses in your presence when signing your Will, new legislation came into effect in the summer which enables the signing of Wills to be carried out digitally.
7. Store your Will safely
You can leave you Will with a local law firm, or safely store it at home.
It is important that you let your Executors know where your Will is kept. Do not ever attach any documents to your Will with paperclips or staples or mark your Will in any way as this could invalidate your Will in the future.
We offer a full regulated Will writing service at Boyletts Law with only qualified Lawyers. All of our services are provided on the basis of a fixed fee and are inclusive of all work required to bring your Will to conclusion.
We are a regulated law firm and a link to our regulation can be found here.
Should you wish to give us a call to discuss your requirements for your Will, we will be very happy to hear from you and please do not hesitate to contact us by one of the methods below.