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Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors

What Should You Never Put In Your Will?

probate lawyer

10th September 2021

When making your Will, things such as how you want your assets distributed after you die, naming a guardian for your children, and choosing an executor of your estate are core elements to include. But did you also know that there are things that you cannot put in your will?

Writing a Will is one of the most important and worthwhile things you can do in your adult life. But, unfortunately, if you pass away without having a valid Will, your property will be divided according to the rules of intestacy, regardless of your intentions.

To avoid this, you must make sure that you have a legally binding Will that states your intentions in no uncertain terms. However, there are certain types of  property that you cannot put in your Will, and other items that you should think twice about including. 

Property That You Cannot include in Your Will

Certain types of property already have specific rules regarding what happens after an owner passes away. Due to these rules, you cannot include these types of property in your will.

Joint Tenancy Property

Joint tenancy property grants a right of survivorship to the joint tenant of the property automatically after one party passes away. When you pass away, your share of the property will automatically pass to the surviving joint tenant regardless of what your will states.

Property Included in a Trust You Created for the Benefit of Someone Else

Setting up a trust can be advantageous if a beneficiary is disadvantaged or vulnerable. When you set up a Trust, you need to identify the beneficiaries for the property included in the Trust. 

Joint Accounts

Since there is a second person listed on a joint account, such as a joint bank or savings account, you cannot include this type of account in your Will. Upon your death, the other owner of the account will automatically become the sole account holder and. take over said account.

Life Insurance Policies With a Beneficiary

The beneficiary you have nominated in your  life insurance policy will automatically receive the proceeds of your policy when you pass away. The only exception to this is if you have not made a nomination in which case the life insurance policy proceeds will pass under your estate.  This may increase any inheritance tax liability and result in more tax being paid which could have been avoided..

Benefits From a Pension

Your pension benefits Will pass according to the rules of your pension provider.  Please find out whether you are allowed to nominate a beneficiary so that it passes outside your estate and reduces any inheritance tax liability. 

A Business Partnership

If you are a partner in a business and you pass away, the surviving partner(s) may receive your share of the company depending on your Articles and Memorandum of Association if it is a Company. We will advise you as to what you need to do depending on what type of business.

Property You Don’t Own

You cannot gift property that you don’t own. It is not possible to gift any leased vehicles, property left to you only for your lifetime, or items subject to a hire purchase agreement.

Your Body

You cannot gift your body in your Will. However, the Human Tissues Act of 2004  allows you to leave your body or any part of it for therapeutic, educational, or research purposes, or anatomical examination.

Written and witnessed consent for anatomical examination must be given prior to death. Consent cannot be given by anyone else after your death. A consent form can be obtained from your local medical school and a copy should be kept with your Will. You should also inform your family, close friends, and GP that you wish to donate your body. 

Shares in a Company

In the articles of association or a shareholders’ agreement, some companies state that you cannot transfer your shares in the company before offering them to other shareholders. If this is the case, your shares may have to be sold and the money from the sale gifted instead of gifting the actual shares.

Gifts to Pets

Pets don’t have the capacity to own property and are not able to receive it if you leave it to them in your Will. Instead of gifting property or funds to a pet, you may gift your pet to someone you trust and leave that person funds to pay for your pet’s care.

Your Funeral Arrangements

Before your estate can be settled and property in your Will released to your loved ones, your will needs to go through probate. Since funeral arrangements happen soon after you die, if you leave your funeral wishes in your Will, your loved ones may not see them in time.

It’s No Secret That You Need a Will

To ensure your estate is taken care of promptly, a Will is the best course of action. Your loved ones will be able to handle your last wishes with ease when they are outlined clearly and tax preparations are accounted for.

Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors are at the ready with an experienced and considerate team to assist you with your estate planning needs. Contact us for more information about writing your Will, as well as your other legal needs for Probate, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Equity release, and Settlement agreements.