When you plan a Will there are a number of important things to think about. This checklist sets out the basic details you will need to think about. Everyone’s situation is different and Wills reflect this, so not everything is relevant, but there are some things that all Wills need to contain.
The Absolute Basics
Executors and Trustees:
These are the people that deal with the Estate after the person making the Will dies. Whilst many people instruct lawyers to deal with the actual process, which can involve a lot of paperwork, it is for the Executors and Trustees to sign the forms and make decisions.
Where you want your Estate to go:
If you are married/in a civil partnership or living with a partner and have children: Do you want to leave everything to them, with the provision that, if they predecease you, it goes to someone else> Or, do you want to leave something to the partner and part to to your children? If so, what proportions>
How old are the children. If they are under 18 you should think about appointing a Guardian.
If you do not have a partner or children: who would you most like to benefit? If you die without a Will the law decides who inherits.
How big is the Estate? Will Inheritance Planning be required?
The Next Steps
How do you want to leave your Estate? Do you want to give cash gifts, or specific gifts (e.g. jewellery) or to you just want to leave the whole estate without splitting it in any way?
Do you want to give gifts outright (i.e. on your death) or do you want to leave any gifts as a Trust?
Do you want to leave anything to charity? As well as supporting good causes, charity gifts can help reduce your Inheritance Tax Liability.
“Belt and Braces”
A well drafted Will will contain provisions dealing with what happens to any gift, be it an individual gift or the whole Estate, if the person named as Beneficiary predeceases you. There are three options.
First, you can specify that if that person predeceases you that gift lapses and becomes part of the main bulk of the Estate. This is also the default position, so you needn’t do anything if this is your wish.
Second, you can name someone else to receive it in their place.
Third, you can leave a “catch all” clause that says that if that person predeceases you then their children will take in their place, and if their children predecease then thier children take, etc.
You can also use a mixture of the above, but the key point is that a gift in a Will should never be left “hanging”
Further things to think about are contained on this page: