What to Consider When Making a Will
Life can be hectic and putting in place a Will is often not a priority. However, it is very important. Here’s what to consider when making a Will.
Will you make it a priority?
Life can be hectic and putting in place a Will is often a long way down your list of priorities, after family, work and generally coping with lockdown. At Kitsons we appreciate that and aim to make the whole process as easy as possible, whilst recognising that a Will is one of the most important documents you will ever sign.
Here are some key points to consider when making a Will:-
If you have any specific wishes about your funeral put them in your Will. If nothing is in there then your Executors will make a decision based on what they think you would have wanted and any views expressed by your family. If you have detailed wishes then those should be included in a separate letter kept with your Will.
Ideally choose at least two and they should be people who you trust and who you believe will be able to handle the job. They can be beneficiaries of your estate. You do not need to appoint professional Executors (such as Kitsons) and you should only consider doing so if you have no obvious choice from your family or friends, your estate is likely to be complicated or there is likely to be a dispute between the beneficiaries and you want someone independent. Ultimately whoever you do appoint must be able to work together as it can be disastrous to appoint two Executors who are likely to fall out.
If you have family heirlooms or personal items (such as paintings, china, jewellery, collections of books or music etc) that you want to pass on to specific beneficiaries then you should include those gifts in your Will. If you don’t then those items will go into the general estate pot (the residue) and could end up going to beneficiaries whom you didn’t intend to leave those items to. If you have a large number of personal items you wish to gift then consider putting them in a separate letter that is linked to your Will.
If you have children under the age of 18 then you have the opportunity to appoint guardians, who would be responsible for looking after your children, should you and your partner die before the children are 18. Their appointment under your Will would only last until the children reach 18. You can appoint family or friends as guardians and in theory a number of individuals could be appointed jointly.
If you have business assets (such as shares in a family run business or perhaps you are in a business Partnership) or agricultural assets (for example farm land or farming assets) you will need advice on how best to structure your Will to maximise any tax reliefs. If you want to gift specific business assets in your Will then you will need to consider how those gifts interact with any shareholder’s or Partnership agreements in place so there is no conflict between the two.
Don’t be afraid of trusts
They sound complicated and potentially expensive but they can be extremely useful in a Will if for example you want to benefit a disabled beneficiary, if you are concerned about your children inheriting too much too soon and spending it unwisely, if you have business or agricultural assets or you want to give your Partner a right to live in your house after you have died. Don’t discount trusts, they may be a sensible option for your circumstances and they can in some situations help save your estate tax.
Family fall outs
Sadly people do fall out with or become estranged from their children and often there is no clear cut reason as to why it has happened. If you intend to leave one of your children or a dependant out of your Will then you should get advice on the legal consequences of doing that as there are ways in which you can protect your estate.
Try and keep it simple
Whilst it is your money and you want to make sure it passes to the right people, don’t over complicate your Will for the sake of it. Try and consider what position you are putting your Executors and beneficiaries in. Will they be able to carry out your wishes easily? Can they understand from your Will what you intended? If you leave behind a Will that is difficult for your Executors to understand or deal with then it may only increase legal costs and that could mean less money passing to your beneficiaries.
Thank you for taking the time to read our article on what to consider when making a Will. If you have any queries please don’t hesitate to contact a member of our Private Client team.
Alternatively, you can contact one of our Private Client Partners direct.
For Exeter based enquiries: Charlie Siegle
Plymouth: Marjorie Creek
Torquay: Jonathan Dickson