No one likes to talk about death, especially their own. But if you don't make plans on how you want to distribute your wealth, while you're still alive, you can leave a host of problems for your grieving family to sort out.
That is why it is crucial to sort out a Will and ensure that it is done correctly.
A lot of the fine detail will only become apparent when you have discussed your requirements with the person drawing up your Will.
However, it makes the process a lot easier if you can consider some of the following questions before seeking help.
1. Choose a good solicitor you can trust
A Will is a vital document that has to be done properly. The money involved in the estates of deceased people is such that only an experienced lawyer well-versed in drawing Wills should be appointed.
2. Don’t delay
Whilst many people look to write a Will, too many start the process and don’t follow it through. In the Wirral alone, there are hundreds of people who know it’s a good idea, but haven’t acted. Commit to getting it done as it gives great peace of mind for everyone associated with you.
3. Who will be the Executors and Trustees
The Executors are those responsible for dealing with your affairs and implementing the terms of your Will. Usually, they are also appointed to be trustees of your assets, whilst your affairs are finalised. You need to think who you wish to appoint and give their full names and addresses to your solicitor. You can also appoint your solicitor as your executor.
4. Who will look after the Children?
If you have any children under the age of 16 you should consider who is to look after them in the event that you die. You can appoint guardians for the children in your Will. Again, their names and addresses should be brought to your appointment.
5. Gifts of Money or Specified Items of Property
Think whether you wish to gift money or specific items of your property to those named in your Will. A list of those items and/or the sums of money you wish to leave together with the names of the intended recipients (beneficiaries) will help your solicitor.
6. The Residuary Estate
The residuary estate is what is left of your assets and property after any liabilities have been paid off and after any specific gifts of property or money have been given to the intended beneficiaries.
You should give some thought as to who is to receive this. If you have minor children and they are to benefit, the funds will need to be held on trust for them by your executors/trustees until they reach a certain age (usually between 18 and 25).
7. Inheritance Tax liabilities
The current threshold for paying Inheritance Tax is £325,000 per person, but will rise over the coming years. You should make a list of your assets and their approximate values and take this with you to the appointment with your solicitor who will be able to advise you on the most tax efficient way to deal with them
8. Registering and storing your Will
After your Will has been signed and dated, which is known as executed, you should ask about registering your Will, which guards against the possibility of it being accidentally lost or destroyed. It is vital that your Will is stored in a safe place where family and/or your executors know where it is in case it is needed.
9. Periodically Reviewing Your Will
Always regularly check your Will – generally at least every 3-4 years but more frequently if your family or financial circumstances change. If you do need to change any details contact your solicitor.
10. Remember Charities
Wills are an effective way to make a gift to charity as all charitable gifts left in your Will are exempt from Inheritance Tax. Think about particular charities that you have an affinity and be ready to advise?