What needs to be included in a Will? Things to consider…
Working out what needs to be included in a will can be a complex process. Having everything written out correctly will help avoid any future potential complications for your loved ones. We have compiled some of the most important points that UK law has to say about wills and what they should include to be valid.
What to include in a will?
· Your money/assets
· Specific Gifts (e.g. Jewellery, watches, or family heirloom)
· Funeral wishes
· Your beneficiaries
· Name your executor
· Digital Assets
Name Your Executor
Your executor will be in charge of handling your estate and rightly distributing your life’s assets. They are also responsible for paying your outstanding debts and taxes and looking after any Property or land you leave behind. They may also have to take care of any legal proceedings that could arise from a dispute over who should receive what from your estate.
Who Should Be My Executor?
Your executor is responsible for executing your will and ensuring your wishes are followed through. Therefore must be someone you trust and would be capable of dealing with lots of paperwork. It can take months sometimes years to settle an estate. It’s therefore a good idea to choose someone trustworthy and reliable. You can appoint more than one executor which can be a good idea as they can share the responsibility of the role.
If there is no one suitable person within your circle or preferred network to act for you Then you can appoint a solicitor as your executor but there will be charges for their services.
Naming Your Beneficiaries
A beneficiary is someone who stands to benefit from your will. Your beneficiaries can be friends, family members, acquaintances, or organisations – often charities which you hold dear. There is no limit to how many people you can name as beneficiaries in your Will. A beneficiary can be a person or an organisation. Gifting to a charity through your will is very tax efficient and can reduce the amount of inheritance tax your estate may have to pay provided you gift at least 10% of your estate to charity.
Including Estate, Money & Assets
Your Estate is the collective term for everything you own. This includes anything in your sole name as well as your car, your savings, and personal possessions.
It also includes life insurance policies, pension schemes, stocks, shares, and bonds. If you own a property with someone else as tenants in common, your share of the property can be included in a Will.
It’s a good idea to get your assets valued regularly because the value of them can change over time, this may mean altering your will regularly.
Below is a list of assets that can be included in your estate
- Your Property (e.g. your family home or second home/s)
- Any personal items you own, these are called “Chattels” and include everything you might find in your home from jewellery to furniture and crockery!
- Cars (these are also part of your chattels)
- Stocks, Shares, and investments
- Premium bonds
- Cash in your bank accounts
- Digital Assets
- Your business assets
- Will shares.
You should include details of any property to be left in your will. This includes the address, , and a description of how you want it to be used – for example, you could want the house to go directly to one of your children.
If you own the home outright, it is simple to leave your share of the property to someone else in a will. It’s more complex if you have jointly held property with another person. In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland there are two ways that this can be done: If the property is held as joint tenancy then when one dies their half automatically goes on for use by surviving occupant(s). If however, they hold it as tenants-in-common with each other, arrangements should be made before death about who receives what portion from which owner after both owners die.
If your property is held in a tenancy in common, you can leave your share of the property to someone else in your will. They will then become a tenant in common with the other owner of your property, they will have the same rights and responsibilities as any other tenant in common.
Cash, including money in current accounts and savings accounts, can be left as part of your will.
Stocks & Shares
Shares can also leave a legacy which means that someone could receive income from shares after they die – but this is not possible with all types of investments and many investment companies do not allow their assets to be passed on through wills anyway. You need to contact the company concerned before deciding whether or not this would work well for you. If there are restrictions attached when stocks were bought, then these must still apply when passing them down by way of inheritance.
Digital assets include things such as social media accounts, cryptocurrency, and digital commodities. You can leave digital assets in your will to choose who should benefit from any electronic items you own. Digital assets may have a sentimental value, such as a Facebook account. A digital asset may also have monetary value such as a cryptocurrency. Your social media accounts may need memorializing, which means shutting them down when you die and not allowing anyone else access. When leaving digital assets in your will it’s important to include any instructions and login details so that you can transfer ownership to your beneficiary.
As part of the Organ Donation (deemed consent) Act 2019, anyone who dies will be presumed to have consented to donating their organs unless they have specifically opted out. You can opt-out of donating your organic by specifying in your will or by contacting the NHS organ donor register.
You can include funeral arrangements in your Will such as where you would like to be buried or cremated. You could also say what music you wish to hear at your funeral, such as music and funeral arrangement.
Pets can be given to loved ones as part of your will. Therefore it’s important to name someone who is comfortable dealing with pets or animals. This is likely to be a close family member. Pets are classed as ‘chattels’ and under UK law instructions relating to your pets can only last for a maximum of 21 years.
Remember to store your will safely
It is important to store your will in a safe place. It’s also crucial that your executor knows where the will is so that he or she has everything necessary to execute your will. A good place to store a will would be with a solicitor, writing service company, or the UK probate service.
Is your will valid?
There aren’t any rules on the structure of your will, you could write it on any piece of paper but getting professional advice will help you avoid any unintentional errors. The process of signing your will is called “attestation” For your will to be valid in England and Wales, you must sign and date your will in front of two independent witnesses who must also sign the will Your witnesses should not be a beneficiary or someone who potentially could be a beneficiary (e.g. the spouse of a beneficiary). They must also be sober(!) and of sound mind. In Scotland, you’ll need two independent adults to sign your will and date it. Your executors can also be your witnesses provided they are not also beneficiaries of the will.
Can someone contest a will?
It’s not uncommon for close family members to dispute a will. . It’s important to get the attestation of your will right so that it cannot be claimed the will is invalid should the will be disputed. A will can be contested for any number of other reasons: it wasn’t properly witnessed; you weren’t competent when you signed it, or the result of coercion or fraud It’s usually up to a probate judge to settle the dispute. The key is understanding that there are various types and ways in which wills can be challenged as well as what this means should your own circumstances change as years go by.
Can you put anything you want in your will?
You can put anything you want in your will, from a list of people who should be contacted if something happens to you all the way down to specific items that need dividing.
If you are unsure what to include in your will then you can consult a professional estate planner who can provide guidance or where needed legal advice.
Will you have to pay inheritance tax on a will?
Inheritance tax is charged on assets left by someone when they die and it’s payable whether or not those assets are passed directly onto their spouse. In some circumstances, this may also apply to children as well. One of the roles of the Executors is to ensure that all outstanding Inheritance tax is paid to HMRC and this is their personal liability. The person inheriting from your will is actually the one liable for the inheritance tax. This is why many solicitors will advise executors should not to release any funds to the beneficiaries until they have settled their IHT liability.
Are you making a will?
We are here to help. Joslin Rhodes is a financial advisor that specialises in wills, trusts, and other aspects of estate planning. Our team has the experience and expertise necessary to provide you with professional advice for your unique situation.
We can take care of all the details so you can focus on what matters most – enjoying life. Contact our office today for more information or schedule an appointment online. You deserve the peace of mind knowing that everything will be taken care of when it comes time to plan your final arrangements.
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