29th September 2021
Most of us know we should have a Will, especially once we have children, homes, or other significant assets. However, it can seem quite daunting trying to learn where to begin and what to include.
You probably have many questions about drafting a Will. Fortunately a solicitor can guide you through the process. However, you will need to prepare and have the correct information before we can draft your Will.
In this article, we will demystify the process and ease the concern of what to include in your Will. We will discuss questions to consider upfront as well as how to update your Will. Having this information before meeting with a solicitor allows you to prepare everything you need before we meet.
What Should You Prepare Before Instructing Us to Your Will?
A Will is a legal document that defines how to distribute your assets after you pass away. There are considerations as well as documentation that you need before we can draft your Will.
Remember your Will can be updated whenever your circumstances in your life change.
Before meeting with a solicitor the two most important steps to take are these:
- List your assets and their estimated value, as well as all debts, such as a mortgage or credit cards that you have.
- Prepare a list of your beneficiaries. These beneficiaries can be family, friends or charities.
What Should You Include In Your Will?
Your Will will be used by your loved ones to distribute your estate. Without a valid Will, your assets will be distributed according to the intestacy rules. They define who gets your estate. This might not be what you want..
Above all, it is crucial that your Will be legally valid and binding. Although you can create a Will without a solicitor, you leave yourself open to making mistakes that may have significant repercussions to the distribution of your estate.
Below are the 5 most important considerations when writing your Will
#1. Assets and Debts
It is important for your solicitor to know your assets and liabilities so that they can advise you whether your estate will pay inheritance tax and how to avoid this significant expense. There is no inheritance tax payable between married couples. However, if your children are due to inherit your estate, at that point inheritance tax may be payable if it is over the taxable threshold. We will guide you through the process and give you options to protect your estate.
Include all assets in your Will with a current valuation. , Periodically update the list and include any gifts you give in your lifetime.
In short, an asset is anything of value. List and maintain a list of all assets, account numbers, passwords, etc. Assets include but are not limited to:
- Bank accounts
- Retirement plans
- Cash and cash equivalents
- Safety deposit boxes
- Real estate
- Stocks and bonds
- Pensions and loved ones you have nominated to benefit from them
- Artwork, jewelry, furniture
- Intellectual property such as royalties, copyrights, patents
Debt is anything owed. Draft and maintain a list of all debts and their account numbers, the amount owed, etc. Debts to consider include, but are not limited to:
- Credit cards
- Bank overdrafts
- Equity release
#2. Distribution Of Assets
The distribution of assets is the delivery of assets to your beneficiaries.
It is beneficial for you to plan what happens if any of your beneficiaries pass away before you? It is good to have substitute beneficiaries so that your estate always has beneficiaries.
If you want to set up a Life Interest Will Trust to ring-fence your assets, now is the time to do it. The purpose of ring-fencing is to keep your assets from ending up with someone you had not intended. For example, if you chose your spouse from a second marriage but do not want the assets to end up with their own children, a Life Interest Will Trust can be used to ring-fence your share of your property for your children.
Secondly, a Life Interest Will Trust can help preserve your estate from care fees if you are a couple and the surviving partner requires care.
#3. Charitable Donations
Your Will can include any charitable donations you would like to make. Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors will include the charity’s name, address, and registration number to ensure the assets go to the correct charity.
#4. Name an Executor
Be sure to include a named Executor in your Will. You may have more than one Executor but let them know and tell them what their role will be. It could involve a great deal of work, and they may not be interested or prepared to take on that level of responsibility. Always discuss the matter with the person you wish to appoint before your Will is drafted. It is better to find out now that they don’t wish to be named an Executor.
#5. Include Your Signature
For a Will to be considered valid, it needs your signature, and that of two witnesses. These witnesses should be independent and not one of the beneficiaries of the Will. We provide a Will signing service to ensure that the process is done correctly.
How Do You Update Your Will?
Your Will can and should be updated periodically. At least every three to five years.
Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors Specialises In Wills
Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors are at the ready with an experienced team to assist you. Contact us for more information about assistance with your Will, as well as your other legal needs for Probate, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Equity Release, and Settlement Agreements.